Florida Elks News Editor:
Rachael King
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Florida State Elks Association Inc.
P.O. Box 49
Umatilla, FL 32784-0049

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1165 spotlight

Live Oak Lodge members arrived at the Mount Gilead Baptist Church Food Ministry June 24 to deliver their $2,000 Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant but ended up jumping in to help with the food pickup event that was underway. They helped bag food and produce and they filled buggies and took them out to waiting families in a line of cars. Founder Gary Watson and his team were grateful for the grant and stated, "We receive very little here at no cost. A majority of the food we give away has to be purchased and we generally get it at a reduced rate in bulk, but still there is a cost. I reach out to local farmers as well for produce at a reduced rate if they have extra on hand that they can not sell otherwise. This $2,000 will certainly help with those costs.” Every other Saturday is a food pickup day for approximately 600 qualifying families per month from Suwannee County, with about 1,400 family members served. At 5 a.m., 25 to 30 volunteers start preparing to serve those who are already forming a car line. The volunteers range in age from 10 to 88. They spend the two weeks in between pickup days acquiring the food and other items needed. On the Thursday prior to pickup, they meet at the ministry pantry and bag nonperishable items to keep the line moving quickly on Saturday.

Pictured is Lori Watson, Lodge grants coordinator, presenting the check to Gary Watson, Mount Gilead Baptist Church Food Ministry founder. Also pictured are Elks and ministry volunteers.