BALTIMORE (WJZ) — One of Baltimore’s biggest conventions of the summer is in town this week.

Upwards of 5,000 Prince Hall Shriners are in the city, but they’re not just here to handle official business — they’re also taking time to give back to the community.

Each year, they pick a different city to hold their convention and this year, it’s Baltimore, providing a boost to business and the community.

Mark Graves will be manning his grill outside the Baltimore Convention Center all week.

“Anywhere there’s a lot of people, that’s where I’m at,” Graves said.

And with 5,000 plus Prince Hall Shriners, for their 126th Annual Convention, Mark picked a good spot.

“Money-wise to the city, (it will mean) probably $8 to $10 million,” said Charles W. Davenport.

That’s money spent at restaurants, hotels, taxis and a few hotdogs and hamburgers.

“It supports my family man, it’s real good business for me,” Graves said.

Businesses aren’t the only ones benefiting. While the Prince Hall Shriners are here handling official business, like selecting leadership, they also find time to give back to their host city.

Come Wednesday, they’re going to be donating 500 backpacks, loaded with school supplies, to Booker T. Washington Middle School.

“We want to be examples to the kids to come, so they need the exposure that they would not otherwise get,” Davenport said.

This past weekend, they held a 4K walk benefiting the American Diabetes Association, an organization they’ve partnered with for the past 10 years.

“It’s a disease that disproportionately affects people of color, particularly African Americans,” said Dr. Otis W. Kriksey.

Besides raising money, local temples help educate the community about diabetes awareness and prevention.

The Shriners will be hosting a parade Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. on Pratt Street outside the convention center and all are welcome to attend.

Sean Streicher

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