Happy New Year to all Florida State Elks and their families. As we begin 2023, let us all make sure that we take the time and reflect on the many blessings in our lives, including family and our extended Elks family.
We all know that Florida Elks are good at giving back to their communities. All lodges and the Florida State Elks Association have different organizations and different ways that they accomplish this. The Florida State Elks Association has partnered with Walgreens and created the Walgreens-Elks Community Gift Drive, which was started six years ago and has continued to be a success in areas of the Central, West Central, Southwest Central and Southwest districts. This year we are proud to announce that it has now grown to include the South Southwest District! The Florida State Elks Association is proud to be in 198 Walgreens stores and hopes to grow it even bigger! Hats off to all the volunteers, also known as Florida Elks elves, who have helped to make this a success and to distribute the toys and gifts to charities to make the holidays brighter for many families. Giving back is what we do best! There is a full spread later in this issue that details more about this program and pictures to show those in action!
On April 22, 2023, the Florida Elks Charities premier statewide fundraiser, the Unmasking Autism Gala — The Power of Love, will be held at the Hilton Bayfront in beautiful downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. This black-tie event is one of the best in Florida Elkdom and is a fun, informative, networking event complete with a cocktail reception, dinner, dancing, guest speakers, and live and silent auctions. All net proceeds will go to Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services (FECTS) to provide and enhance our services for children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Our FECTS therapists have found that 50% of the patients being treated are within the spectrum. Research has found that the sooner these children receive therapy, the better the chances are for them to develop and reach their full potential, which is different for each child. We all know someone or a family who is affected by autism spectrum disorder. By attending the gala, you are not only helping one of our major projects; you will also be helping a child affected with the challenges of ASD. Register now at unmaskingautism.com to find out more information. All lodges are asked to participate, as it is a statewide fundraiser, and it is one that you do not want to miss! If you are unable to attend, donations are appreciated.
The Heartbeat campaign has started, and all lodges should have received their first 20 hearts to sell for a suggested donation of $5 each. This year’s gala theme is The Power of Love to show children with ASD that just because they are faced with challenges in their life, they are still loved! This is a way for all lodges to participate in the Unmasking Autism Gala even if dates are conflicting and they are unable to attend. Lodges can request more hearts to sell by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All lodges participating will be entered into a drawing held April 3 to receive two free tickets and accommodations to the gala. All lodges that send in their donations received for the hearts will be recognized at the gala and state convention and on the website. We will also be having first, second and third places for lodges that have received the most donations through the Heartbeat campaign. Help your lodge have the biggest heartbeat! The deadline for this campaign is March 25, 2023, with all checks to be made payable to Florida Elks Charities, P.O. Box 49, Umatilla, FL 32784-0049, or you can pay online at unmaskingautism.com/donate and just note that it is for hearts.
As we move forward into 2023, there are many notable Florida State Elks Association events that we might all want to attend!
Feb. 9-11 — February Quarterly — This is held at the beautiful Florida Elks Youth Camp in Umatilla, Florida. Plan to attend and see the beautiful camp!
Feb. 11 — State Barbecue — After the final session of the February quarterly, Eustis Lodge, located at 2540 Dora Ave., Tavares, FL 32778, will be hosting a barbecue lunch/dinner. This is a great way to end the weekend meeting!
March 10-12 — Officer Training Seminar — This is held at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Florida, and is one of the best in the country! All lodge officers should attend to learn what their roles will entail and how to manage and resolve different situations that might arise in their lodge.
March 19 — Florida Elks on Ice — Buy your tickets online and bring your friends for an evening to see the amazing Tampa Bay Lightning play!
April 1-2 — State Golf Tournament — This golf tournament is open to all Florida Elks and is held in Sebring, Florida. This is a fun event to meet other members from other lodges and make new friendships!
April 22 — The Unmasking Autism Gala — The Power of Love — is Florida Elks Charities’ premier statewide fundraiser.
May 25-27 — Florida State Elks Association State Convention — The convention is at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Florida. Get your crafters together, as we will need donations for the silent auction and are asking each lodge to donate. Your lodge will receive credit, so you will need to complete an in-kind donation form when you drop off your item at registration. Please contact me if you will be donating an item!