Happy Fall 2023! I know that most of us are ready for some cooler weather! As time rolls on, the Florida Elks are busy planning events and fundraisers to help our lodges, major projects and communities. The motto this year of our State President, Joe Cooper, is “Florida Elks Shine Bright,” and when you look around at all the great things that we do as Elks, we are shining bright!
With many events this year behind us, we still have much to do this year and into 2024. Our next midyear convention will be Nov. 9-11 at the Hilton Bayfront in St. Petersburg, Florida. We hope to see you there. Meet your fellow Elks and learn about the latest information that is helpful to your lodge. See the listing of restaurants in this magazine on page 36 that are offering a 10% discount to
Elks during this convention. There are still tickets on sale for Elks on Ice for the Tampa Bay Lightning game scheduled Saturday evening, Nov. 11, after all meetings are done.
The Walgreens/Elks Community Gift Drive will be Nov. 15 through Dec. 15, 2023. There were some changes this year to Walgreens areas that participate, but even with the changes, this drive has always been and will continue to be successful and serve many families within our communities to make the holidays brighter for them. All participating lodges within the assigned areas have been notified of the stores in their area for pickups. We are in communication with our Walgreens liaison to have more stores and locations participate next year.
Mark your calendars for the fourth annual Unmasking Autism Gala April 27, 2024, at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront. This is the Florida State Elks/Florida Elks Charities premier statewide fundraiser! The theme for this year is We’re On the Move. This is a black-tie event with a cocktail hour, dinner, dancing, guest speakers, silent and live auctions, and a chance to network with others in our communities and fellow Elks. Join us and learn more about raising awareness and acceptance of these children with autism spectrum disorder and how we can help enhance and expand our treatment for these children to develop and reach their full potential. All net proceeds from this event will go to Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services. Our therapists have noted that 60% of children currently being treated are within the spectrum. For more information on the Unmasking Autism Gala, visit unmaskingautism.com.
Lodges can help. We are asking that all lodges participate in the All Aboard Campaign. This is a way to participate even if you are unable to attend the Unmasking Autism Gala due to scheduling conflicts. Lodges will be receiving 20 wooden trains to start the campaign and can always request more by contacting me at email@example.com. For a suggested donation of $5, you will receive a wooden train to put your name on or you can just donate to show your support to honor a child with autism spectrum disorder. Your lodge can proudly display them, showing that you are a supporter of Unmasking Autism. Members, help your lodge by your donations to have a train car (minimum $100) on the virtual train, The Unmasking Autism Gala Express, that will be traveling across the screen at the gala showing that your lodge is a proud supporter of children with autism spectrum disorder. Your lodge will also receive recognition at the state convention on the screen and on a banner. It will also be listed in the Florida Elks Magazine and on the Unmasking Autism website. Help your lodge ride that train! All lodges that turn in all monies from the All Aboard Campaign by April 5, 2024, will be entered into a drawing that will be held April 6, 2024, for two free tickets to the gala and a one-night stay at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront. The lodge that wins the drawing can raffle the tickets, give them to a selected member or give the tickets to the therapist in your district. Also, we will be awarding first, second and third place lodges that give the most in donations for Unmasking Autism and they will receive the first cars on the train. So, Florida Elks, All Aboard and let’s all ride that train to show We’re On the Move and there is no stopping us from helping children with autism spectrum disorder receive the treatment they need! Let’s help them and their families with the challenges they face daily.
Congratulations to last year’s winners in the Heartbeats Campaign:
First Deep Creek #2763
Second Pensacola Beach #497
Third Hollywood West #2365
Other important dates in 2024:
February Quarterly — Feb. 8-10, 2024 — Florida Elks Youth Camp in Umatilla, Florida
Officer Training — March 15-17, 2024 — Rosen Centre in Orlando, Florida
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.
State Golf Tournament — April 6-7, 2024 — Sebring, Florida
This golf tournament is open to all Florida Elks and is a wonderful way to meet members from other lodges and make new friendships!
In closing, what a great feeling it is to know that you are a part of an organization that does so much for children, veterans and our communities. In the words of Mike Smith, PNP, “Florida Elks are Loud, Proud and Visible!”
God bless you and your families and have a safe and wonderful holiday season! All Aboard!