On December 14, Zephyrhills Lodge hosted its annual Christmas party for adult residents of Angel Heart, who are mentally disabled. The residents received stuffed animals from Santa Claus, which are donated by Ken Fabiani, PER. The lodge donated $500 for the stockings and lunch, which consisted of hamburgers, fries, punch and ice cream. The cookies were donated by lodge members. Member and musician Barry Oliver donated his time and music for dancing and singing. Dottie Sollmann chaired the event.
Pictured are guests at the party.
On Dec. 1, Brooksville Elks Lodge members shopped for their annual Hernando County Foster Children's Christmas party with funds from the Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. There were 108 children from foster care and their parents in attendance. Children received gifts and parents were given gift cards to purchase food.
Shopping for gifts are Robert Hinton; Carr Hussey, Exalted Ruler; Nora Hughson; Doranda Hinton; Jane Hussey; Cindy Griffiths; Peter Berna and Sherry Mackeil.
On Oct. 17, Aripeka Elks Lodge #2520 presented two $500 checks to local organizations. One was to the Three Lakes RV Park, which works with Angela's House, a group home for adults who are severely disabled. The money will be used for supplies for everyday living fun. The other check was to the Kiddy Up Ranch, a nonprofit animal-facilitated program designed to address the emotional, social and cognitive goals of children. Pictured presenting the checks to organization representatives is Thomas Carlow, Exalted Ruler, right.
On Nov. 12, Zephyrhills Elks Lodge members hosted their Hoop Shoot at the Zephyrhills YMCA. Each contestant gets five practice shots. Then they throw 10 shots and then 15 shots. The contestant with the most baskets advances to the District Hoop Shoot for a chance at state and nationals. Channing Garcia, 8, from Zephyrhills RIP City travel team placed first in the 8-9-year-old category, scoring nine baskets. He plays offensive and defensive positions. For the first time in lodge history, there was a tense tiebreaker in the 12-13-year-old category. Jaymen Keeling and Joshua Oates competed to break their tie of nine baskets each. Jaymen Keeling, 12, from Dade City, plays on the Centennial Middle School Basketball Team as a power forward. Joshua Oates, 13, from Ridge Manor, plays center position for the RIP City travel team. Jaymen Keeling took first place, scoring three baskets in the tiebreaker with Joshua coming in second place. The kids and their families were invited to the lodge afterward for hot dogs, pizza, soda and cupcakes. The trophies were awarded and each participant received frisbees. Lodge volunteers included Bill Moorehouse, Hoop Shoot Lodge Chair; Ed DeBerri, referee; Aaden Moorehouse, ball retriever; Alice Perry, head scorekeeper; Barbara Conklin and Susan Slater, scorekeepers; and the ladies in the kitchen. Channing Garcia and Jaymen Keeling will compete in the District Hoop Shoot in Kissimmee Jan. 7.
Pictured are Joshua Oates, Jaymen Keeling and Channing Garcia.
As Zephyrhills Lodge Veterans Services Committee Chair, Ken Fabiani, PER receives food donations in addition to furnishings. Some of these he gives to the veterans, but he also shares some with a local ministry called Healing Hearts Café in Zephyrhills, Florida. The cafe feeds those who are food insecure, including those who are homeless, seniors, construction workers, workers who earn minimum wage and others. The facility is climate-controlled to avoid the heat or cold outside. There is a TV room with futons and recliners for a safe place to catch up on some sleep, and the TV broadcasts Christian programming. Any of the food that Fabiani donates or that the facility receives is served for the meals or is used in blessing boxes around Zephyrhills to help feed anyone who needs it.
Pictured are Ken Fabiani, PER and Donna Nelson, co-director of Healing Hearts Café.
On May 25 the packing crew from West Citrus Elks Lodge #2693 arrived at Citrus County Blessings in Lecanto, Florida, to pack 178 bags of weekend food for children. The crew also brought a donation for $2,000 from the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant. The donation was accepted by Christina Reed, executive director, and Rachelle Garret-Butler, program coordinator. The lodge has two groups of volunteers to pack food. The food is sent home with the children on Friday to be sure that they have enough to eat over the weekend.
Pictured are Beth Tarnowski, Shirley Gamache, Donna Hayes, Rick Jeroski, Bev Kelly and Jill Jerowki.
On May 3, John DeLorenzo, president of the Zephyrhills Lions Club and a member of Zephyrhills Elks Lodge, presented a $2,500 check to the lodge before the Lions’ bingo games began. Every Tuesday the Lions Club bingo players hold a 50/50 raffle and donate half of the proceeds to local charities. The bingo players raised this money for Zephyrhills Lodge’s Feed the Kids summer program. The Elks received a grant for three years to feed the kids every summer, but this year the grant is no longer available to the program, so this donation could not have come at a better time. Anyone with children can participate in the program. This year’s program began June 6 and will end Aug. 5. To-go meals are provided at the lodge Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11-1. Every other Wednesday, craft packages are distributed, which consist of projects for various holidays, like Father's Day and Fourth of July, as well as crafts for anti-bullying and drug awareness. The other Wednesdays will feature a new part of the program called Park & Play, held in the parking lot. There are games for the kids to play and books to read, and dictionaries and schools supplies in backpacks are given out before the school year begins.
Pictured with the check are Gwen Klamer, Elk volunteer; David Moyer, Leading Knight; Donna Moyer, Elks program chair; John DiLorenzo, Lions president; Jay Klamer, Exalted Ruler; Anne MacDonald, Elk volunteer; and Wayne Page, Elks trustee. Not pictured is Christine Malone, Lions Club treasurer.
On April 3, Donna Hoffman, Exalted of Orlando Elks Lodge #1079, presented the Mental Health Association of Central Florida with a donation of $2,500 from its Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant. The donation is to better serve the community to provide mental health services, especially to those affected by COVID and dealing with trauma. Pictured are Kim Holdridge, Mental Health Association Board chair; Mami Stahiman, Mental Health Association president/CEO; and Donna Hoffman, Exalted Ruler.
On Feb. 3, Zephyrhills Lodge hosted the monthly breakfast meeting for the Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce. Because their meetings are usually held at a local restaurant, most attendees were inquisitive about having breakfast at the lodge, but through the meeting, they were very impressed by the Zephyrhills Elks and how they help the community. Barbara Conklin, Leading Knight, donated the breakfast with over 50 people in attendance and arranged speakers from the lodge to present their charities. The speakers were Donna Moyer, trustee for the Feed the Kids program; Judy Osgood, Elks National Foundation Fundraising Chair; Beth Impson, Lodge Harry-Anna Trust Fund Chair; and Paul Nutting, Exalted Ruler. Each gave a speech about their charities and what the Elks do for them and the community. Zephyrhills Elks Lodge has been a chamber member for many years.
Pictured are breakfast attendees.
On Jan. 11, Zephyrhills Elks Lodge #2731 delivered fleece sweatshirts in various colors and sizes to four elementary schools in Zephyrhills — Chester, Woodland, Centennial and West. Chester and Woodland are Title I schools, which have underserved students. The sweatshirts were purchased using $2,012.87 of the lodge’s Elks National Foundation (ENF) Gratitude Grant.
Pictured at Centennial Elementary are Alice Tolson, ENF Fundraising Committee member; Noemi Torres, parent advocate; and Judy Osgood, Lodge ENF Fundraising Committee chair and lodge grants coordinator.
On Feb. 6, Kissimmee Elks Lodge #1873 donated its $2,000 Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to First United Methodist Church of St. Cloud, Florida. The church sponsors "Bags of Love" two days a week, where those experiencing homelessness receive a bag of nonperishable items and a hot meal. Counseling and clothing are also available. On Sunday, the church rotates with four other churches to offer a hot meal through Elmer's Kitchen Ministry. The church also provided cold-weather housing and food during a recent string of cooler weather. Some of the monies are also being used to purchase a commercial refrigerator.
On Dec. 14, members of Aripeka Elks Lodge #2520 hosted a Christmas party for more than 200 children in foster care under the guidance of the Guardian ad Litem program in New Port Richey, Florida. These children have been removed from their families for a variety of reasons and placed in a foster home with a family to care for them. The lodge’s main hall was decorated for the event. Lodge members and members of the Guardian ad Litem program donated toys for all the children, and all 35 bicycles were purchased by the lodge. Lodge members also provided every child and sponsor with food and drinks during the party. Santa Claus even made an appearance to greet the children which was a great hit!
Pictured are all the toys donated by Aripeka Lodge members for children in foster care.