Chartered in 2005, the Sons of Italy in America Bella Italia Lodge 2808-Columbia has a growing membership that is representative of Lexington, Columbia, W. Columbia, Cayce, Irmo, Chapin, Camden and Swansea. Several members of Lodge 2808-Columbia are Italian pioneers who have made Columbia and neighboring towns their home for more than sixty years. The lodge, which is an affiliate member of the national Order Sons of Italy of America (OSIA), promotes the awareness of Italian heritage and influence and recognizes Italian Americans for their service and contributions locally through business, industry, entertainment or other service. The Lodge is proud of its hometown, Columbia, which is the first city in the United States to be named for America's founding father Christopher Columbus. The city has erected a magnificent bronze statue of Columbus in its Riverfront Park (downtown Columbia). This park was the site of the first Italian Festival: One Day Passport to Italy sponsored by the Bella Italia lodge.
A major initiative of the Lodge is to give back to the community. Our fundraisers enable us to award college scholarship funds to deserving students and provide donations to charitable organizations. We participate in Columbia's International Festival and present the Italian Festival to build awareness of Italian heritage in Columbia, SC.
Lodge members meet once a month on a Sunday evening to conduct official business, dine together as a famiglia (family) and socialize. Members bring an authentic Italian dish to share (main entree, salad or dessert). Entertainment and Italian-related programs are provided during the social period: Italian heritage, culture, raffles, games, music and dancing. Lodge members also enjoy an annual picnic in early summer and annual Christmas gala with dinner and dancing.
OSIA is the largest and oldest national organization in the United States for men and women of Italian descent in the United States. Established in 1905, OSIA has more than 600,000 members and supporters and a network of more than 745 chapters coast to coast. OSIA works at the community, national and state levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 16-26 million Italian Americans - the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.