On April 7, St. Augustine Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler, Joseph Smith, left, presents a $1,500 check to David Patrick, St. Augustine Yacht Club Commodore (right), to support the new Youth Sailing Center at Salt Run.
For the first time, the lodge exceeded $100,000 in charitable donations during the 2022-2023 year, and just $10,000 of this was grant money. In recent years, the lodge has established a series of successful fundraising events, leading to more dollars for investment into the St. Augustine community. Smith believes it is only "the tip of the iceberg" of more to follow. The lodge hopes to be seen as a major player in the continued growth and success of St. Augustine and St. Johns County. A total of $106,915.83 was issued to more than 30 entities last year, including Wildflower Clinic, R.B. Hunt School, Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, Gamble Rodgers Festival, SAYC Youth Sailing Program, Hope For Vets, Marine Corp League, St. Johns Veteran Council, St. Johns County Schools, Boys and Girls Club, Firefighters for Families, YMCA, and many others.
On April 8, Mandarin-St. Johns Elks Lodge #2866 delivered boxes of food to the Mandarin Food Bank. The items were purchased using $1,200 from the Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant. Lodge members Marie Manley and Steve Easton are active volunteers at the food bank.
Pictured are Dan Henderson, Esquire; Virginia Henderson, trustee; Marie Manley, lodge member; Vicky Falzone, trustee; and Steve Easton, PER.
Hayden Heavener, representing Jacksonville Elks Lodge #221, won first place at the lodge and district Hoop Shoots before placing first for boys ages 10-11 at the North regional Hoop Shoot Jan. 28 at Columbia High School in Lake City, Florida. He then advanced to the state Hoop Shoot Feb. 18 at the Florida Elks Youth Camp, where he won first place again. He then went on to the southeast regional competition in Valdosta, Georgia, March 18, again scoring first in his age division, moving him to the national Hoop Shoot later in April. Hayden is the first contestant from Jacksonville 221 to make it to the national level. His grandfather, David Heavener, is an Elks member as well.
Pictured are Hayden and Brent Reedy, Lodge and District Hoop Shoot Chair.
On Feb. 25, Green Cove Springs Lodge hosted a community baby shower using funds from the Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant. Fourteen new moms received a home library of children's books, diaper bag, diaper wipes, toys, bottles and bibs as well as door prizes such as strollers, playpens, booster seats and bath sets. Lodge volunteers and representatives from Florida Elks Children's Therapy Services, Green Cove Springs Library, The Way Clinic and the Head Start program helped welcome the families. A delicious lunch was served, too.
Photo 1: Lodge volunteers
Photo 2: New mom Christine Kerr and daughter Danielle, FECTS therapist Rae Montgomery, new mom Leah Evans, lodge member Anna Eden, FECTS therapist Melanie Sarris
Photo 3: Volunteers Lisette Fiannaca, Head Start; lodge member Mary Bolla; Andrea Crowder, The Way Clinic associate director; and Marisol Buitrago, Head Start center manager
Photos 4-6: Gifts and baby supplies
During February, Green Cove Springs Lodge held its annual Comfort Campaign. Members and guests donated more than 150 new stuffed animals to support local law enforcement officers in providing comfort to the children they meet on their calls. On March 10, officers from Green Cove Springs Police Department and Clay County Sheriff’s Office were guests of the lodge for dinner and received the stuffed animals.
Lodge members and volunteers pictured packing the stuffed animals are Greg Hughson, PDD; Kathy Hughson, volunteer; Wendy Hughson, member; Izzy Hughson, volunteer; Jennifer Parker, member; Elinore Williams, volunteer; Tracy Carroll, PER; and Greg Hughson, Jr., member.
Pictured at the presentation are Althea Orvosh, volunteer; Izzy Hughson, volunteer; Al Williams, Exalted Ruler; Officer Babcock, GCSPD; Officer Morando, GCSPD; Josh Lee, GCSPD Community Relations; Deputy Burns, CCSO; Sergeant Hess, GCSPD; Deputy Freshour, CCSO Community Affairs; and Lt. Coyle, CCSO.
Green Cove Springs Lodge member Helen Cornelius helped coordinate fundraising efforts for Colon Cancer Awareness Month. On March 22 at a dinner attended by more than 100 members and guests, the lodge presented a check for $2,750 to Howie Brigance for the Borland Groover Cancer Walk in memory of loved ones lost to colon cancer and in support of those who have survived.
Pictured with Brigance, fourth from left, are lodge members Jeannie Calhoun; Lynn Elrod, Exalted Ruler-elect; Al Williams, Exalted Ruler; Anna Eden; Bob Russell; and Helen Cornelius. Also pictured on the cake table are three photos of people lost to colon cancer.
On Feb. 20, St. Augustine Lodge donated its $2,500 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to the Homeless Coalition of St. John’s County to provide services to individuals and families who are homeless, including temporary homes and child care. Additionally, lodge members donated approximately $500 worth of nonperishable items.
Pictured are Kevin Walsh, lodge trustee; Cathleen Walsh, Lodge Secretary; Elizabeth Bastedo, lodge grant coordinator; Debi Redding, Homeless Coalition executive director; and Rich Bastedo, lodge member.
On Jan. 17, St. Augustine Elks Lodge #829 donated $2,000 from its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant along with $2,000 of its matching funds from the Florida State Elks Association to the Wildflower Healthcare, which provides no-cost medical and dental care to uninsured residents of the county. Pictured are Elizabeth Bastedo, lodge grant coordinator, and Michelle Collee, executive director of Wildflower Healthcare.
Jacksonville Elks Lodge #221 hosted a children’s Christmas party Dec. 10 for families from Hogan Spring-Glen Elementary School. With the support of UPS, the United Methodist Church and the use of the lodge's Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant, the lodge provided gifts from wish lists, grocery store gift cards for Christmas dinner and many other donated items to 15 families in need. Author David Gaslin took time with each child and gave them a signed copy of his children’s book. Santa made an appearance as well as Elroy the Elk. Children made ornaments and picture frames, decorated cookies, and had their photos taken with Santa. Lunch and desserts were provided.
Pictured are Santa greeting the children and Elroy the Elk with David Graham, Exalted Ruler.
Hayden Heavener, representing Jacksonville Elks Lodge #221, won first place for boys ages 10-11 at the North regional Hoop Shoot Jan. 28 at Columbia High School in Lake City, Florida. He made 19 out of 25 baskets, tying with another contestant, and then won the tiebreaker, making four out of five baskets. He advances to the state Hoop Shoot. He also won first place at the Jacksonville Lodge Hoop Shoot and the Northeast District Hoop Shoot.
Pictured are Hayden Heavener and Elroy the Elk (from Lake City Lodge).
On Jan. 10, Green Cove Springs Lodge donated $1,000 from the Past Exalted Rulers charity bingo fund to Seamark Ranch, a working farm in Green Cove Springs that provides schooling and counseling in a family home setting to children in the foster care system or in crisis situations. The ranch has provided support to more than 100 children since opening its doors to children in need.
Pictured at the check presentation are Ed Weston, PER chair; Paul Orvosh, PDD, Lodge Treasurer; Brittany McGraw, Seamark Ranch events manager; and Al Williams, Exalted Ruler.
On Jan. 6, Green Cove Springs Elks Lodge #1892 donated $1,783 of its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to the Food Pantry of Green Cove Springs, which has been providing support to the community for more than 30 years.
Pictured at the check presentation are Tracy Carroll, PER, lodge grants coordinator; Theresa and Ken Heselschwerdt, food pantry volunteers; and Al Williams, Exalted Ruler.