The Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S.) was founded in 1872 as a fun organization and has been called the playground of Masons. The Shrine, as the organization is informally known, remains such today, but, along with having fun, its Nobles have established the worlds greatest philanthropy. Today the Shrine owns and operates 19 orthopedic hospitals for crippled children and three burns institutes for burned children. Treatment at a Shriners Hospital is provided without regard to race, creed or color and is fully paid for by the Shrine. Nobles have provided treatment for more than a half-million children.
What might be called the serious side of the Shrine had its beginning in 1914 when the Imperial Council appointed a committee to consider establishing a tuberculosis sanitarium for afflicted children of Shriners. The proposal was rejected a year later, but it had set Shriners to thinking and planning. A proposal was made in 1919 for the Shrine to do something for friendless, orphaned and crippled children, and, after much planning, the first Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children opened in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1922. The growth and success of this great philanthropy has been possible by the efforts of Shriners throughout North America.