Some vehicles run on corn. Mizpah Shrine Center vans run on onions. Or at least they do from proceeds of the Fort Wayne temple's annual sale of Vidalia onions.
Shriners Bill Hartman and Ellis Ryan joined others Friday afternoon for the first day of the sale from a semi-trailer in a parking lot at Main and Ewing streets a block from the center, 407 W. Berry St.They'll take a break, then resume the sale Monday. For $10.95 buyers get a 10-pound bag of the sweet-tasting onions.
The Mizpah Shrine spends about $70,000 to $100,000-plus each year to take children and their families for free to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Chicago and Cleveland. The Shriners make 17 trips a month to Chicago alone, Ryan said. The nationwide network of Shriners hospitals treat children with neuromusculoskeletal conditions, burn injuries and other special healthcare needs regardless of their families' abilities to pay.
"We have to sell 25 bags (of onions) to pay for one trip to Chicago," Hartman said.
The Shriners had 4,000 bags, or 40,000 pounds of onions, in this year's sale, he said. The sale represents 20 to 25 percent of the transportation budget.
They expect to sell out of onions Tuesday.