Jacksonville Ali Temple is hosting an annual charity ball this weekend

The Jacksonville Shriner Temple, founded four years ago, will hold its annual charity ball this weekend.

Ali Temple was founded on January 13, 2018, under the leadership of Jeff Barrett, the Temple’s first illustrious potentate or leader. Former Honorary Potentate James Smiley said the temple was born out of many members traveling more than 40 miles to attend Shriner meetings at Arab Temple No. 42 in New Bern, which led to the need for a shrine in Jacksonville.

Smiley said Ali Temple currently has around 57 members.

“But we’re still growing, and I’m sure we’re going to grow a lot more than that,” Smiley said. “I think COVID slowed us down a lot, because we couldn’t do the things we normally did, but we were still working in the community.”

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Working in the community is a big part of what the Temple does, and Ali Temple even received the North Carolina Desert (State) Temple of the Year award after only being in existence for a year. The award is given to the most active temple, with community service and volunteerism being the most important factors.

Smiley said Temple members have done everything from partnering with the CHEW program, organizing school book drives with Clyde Erwin Elementary, sending in book bags full of supplies, reading in elementary schools, doing donating toiletries to nursing homes and doing Thanksgiving and Christmas Cheer.

“We’ll do what we call Thanksgiving and Christmas Cheer, where sometimes we get with DSS (Department of Social Services) I would say it’s a combination, but we also take referrals for families that are in need. and we provide them with turkey and hams and non-perishables, that way they have a proper Christmas feast and Thanksgiving feast,” Smiley said.

He said the charity ball is the Temple’s biggest fundraiser, which helps raise the funds needed to give back to the community like they do.

“We bring people from all over,” Smiley said of the event. “I would say, all the way down the east coast, from Florida to Connecticut, Jersey, places like that. For prom weekend, we usually bring a total of 800 people that fills about four hotels.”

He said it is a formal and elegant event, and everyone who attends receives a meal and can see members of other temples through what they call their domain.

“They not only get a good show, but they hear about and see some of the charity events that we do,” Smiley said. “One of the biggest things this weekend is scholarships. We usually give out around $3,000 in scholarships over this weekend to deserving students who have been accepted. in college, and I mean, for us, that’s the highlight of this weekend, being able to give those scholarships, but also some of those proceeds from the charity ball, which is our biggest fundraiser funds.”

The event will take place this weekend, Friday, June 24 through Sunday, June 26, at both the Hampton Inn & Suites and the American Legion Building. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, attendees can enjoy fish fries at the hotel, followed by a party at the American Legion building from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., complete with cash bar and BYOB.

Saturday will begin with the Fellows Luncheon at 1:00 p.m., followed by the Charity Ball at the American Legion Building with doors open at 7:00 p.m., dinner served at 8:00 a.m. and the ball beginning at 9:00 a.m.

The dress includes a sundress/regal dress for nobles, a regal dress for girls, a semi-formal suit and tie for men, and a semi-formal dress for women. Those interested in attending can still get tickets, which is an $80 donation that covers the entire weekend.

Journalist Morgan Starling can be reached at [email protected]

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