On Sept. 5, Green Cove Springs Elks Lodge #1892 showed appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the Green Cove Springs Police Department by donating two dozen boxes of cookies and other treats. Pictured are Ed Weston, Exalted Ruler; Gene Rittenhouse, District Deputy; Cheryl Royal, Lecturing Knight; Linda Rittenhouse, FLOE Vice President; Tracy Carroll, PER, Esquire; Lucie Barnette, PER, Trustee; Cathy Sanders, member; Officer Renay Henderson; and Sergeant Barb Luedtke.
The members of Green Cove Springs Elks Lodge #1892 donated $1,000 to Charles E. Bennett Elementary School and presented it to Dr. Cagle, principal, Sept. 9 at the lodge. The donation will be used to provide teachers and students with school supplies.
On June 17, Mandarin-St. Johns Elks Lodge #2866 used its $2,000 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to donate a large refrigerator to the Mandarin Food Bank in Jacksonville, Florida. The refrigerator was $1,976 and the remaining $24 was donated to the food bank. Pictured are Bonnie McNulty, food bank director; Christie Easton, Lodge Secretary; Ken Kamiski, volunteer inventory manager; and Steve Easton, Exalted Ruler.
On May 21, Green Cove Springs Lodge donated $1,000 from the lodge PER/charity bingo fund on behalf of lodge members to the Green Cove Springs Food Pantry. Cheryl Royal, Lecturing Knight, is pictured presenting the check to food pantry volunteer Wynema Lovell. Throughout May and June, lodge members have brought nonperishable food to the lodge and members Gale and Nancy Klopfenstein, who are also volunteers at the food pantry, have helped coordinate and deliver the items each week to the food pantry. Pictured organizing food donations at the lodge are members Gale Klopfenstein, Patsy Weston and Nancy Klopfenstein.
On April 30, Green Cove Springs Elks Lodge #1892 donated more than 100 boxes of cereal bars to Charles E. Bennett Elementary School to help supplement their take-home lunch program for students that has been instituted during the pandemic. Pictured are Mary Bolla, member and local school board member; Dr. Sheree Cagle, principal; Tracy Carroll, PER; Gene Rittenhouse, District Vice President; Ed Weston, Exalted Ruler; and Marcia Mainer, assistant principal.
990 Waldo Gainesville Elks Lodge #990 helped with the transport of food from the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank to the City of Waldo. The initial goal was to be able to offer enough food to feed over 50 families. The lodge helped every Wednesday for four weeks, and now it has changed to once a month. Pictured April 22 are Breed Jumpp, president of the Gainesville Elks Riders 990; Linda Califf, Lodge Secretary; and Gary Parker, lodge member and Parker Pest Control. Additional members not pictured are Saudia Bradley and Rita Puentez, coordinator of this event. The following is a thank-you letter received by the lodge from the mayor of Waldo dated April 28.
As the Mayor of Waldo, I would really like to thank you and your lodge members for your help with feeding Waldo. As you may or may not know Waldo does not have a food bank, so our residents must go to Gainesville or Starke to get food. Many residents do not have the ability to do that. This has been a huge blessing for the City of Waldo, and we are grateful for your role in that giveaway.
You all have made a difference in Waldo and for that we thank you!
Louie Davis, Mayor
Because there was a surplus after the lodge delivered the food from the Bread of the Mighty to the City of Waldo, they donated the extra food to the St. Francis House, a homeless shelter in Gainesville. Pictured April 22 at the lodge is member Saudia Bradley loading food to deliver to the St. Francis House in Gainesville. The lodge members have been anxious to reach out and help their community in these times of need.
During the month of February, Green Cove Springs Lodge held their annual Comfort Campaign in support of the local law enforcement. Thanks to generous members and guests, the lodge donated 140 stuffed animals to the Green Cove Springs Police and Clay County Sheriff's departments. These stuffed toys will be distributed by law enforcement to provide comfort to the children they encounter on their calls. Members of both agencies were guests for breakfast at the lodge Feb. 29. Pictured preparing the donations are Kathy Hughson, spouse; Ed Weston, Exalted Ruler; Emily Hughson, volunteer; Greg Hughson, PDD; Diane Watson, Secretary; Patsy Weston, entertainment committee member; and Tracy Carroll, PER. Pictured at the breakfast are Ed Weston, Exalted Ruler; Deputy Matthews; Deputy Freshour; Izzy Hughson and Emily Hughson, volunteers; Sheriff Daniels; Tracy Carroll, PER; Officer Babcock; Sergeant Hess; and Officer Camp.
On Feb. 22, Green Cove Springs Elks Lodge #1892 hosted a community baby shower funded through the Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant. The lodge partnered with the community including schools and health clinics to reach out to new mothers. Nineteen volunteers helped guests feel welcome, and each new mom received gifts including a diaper bag, diapers, toys, bibs, bottles and a variety of door prizes. Lunch was provided and there were games as well. Each mom also received a home library of eight books to support their child's early literacy learning. Therapists Rae Montgomery and Melanie Sarris from Florida Elks Children's Therapy Services, Sergeant Kim Miller from Green Cove Springs Police Department, and Jennifer Parker, Green Cove Springs Library branch manager, were on hand to provide informational resources to the families. Pictured are new moms having lunch with Jennifer Parker, Rae Montgomery and Melanie Sarris.
On March 3, Gainesville Elks Lodge, through partnership with the University of Florida’s Healthy Families Organization (HFO) and the Alachua County Library District and with the assistance of an Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant, held a community baby shower. Young first-time parents and expectant mothers were invited to the event and were informed of a vast amount of programs and services that the Elks, HFO and the Library District offer. A literary program was conducted by HFO with attention drawn to the learning capabilities of unborn children and the importance of reading to children even before their birth was discussed. Elks members distributed over 350 board books to the over 25 families in attendance and held a raffle for a large quantity of baby items ranging from diapers to play yards and highchairs. The Elks distributed information on Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services and Drug Awareness and assisted the library staff in providing library cards to the families. The families left with a copious amount of information to assist them in raising healthy children and promoting their children’s literacy skills and development.
Pictured are Elks members Maryann Davis, Linda Califf, and Lisa Cruz and helper Veronica Cruz.
The Green Cove Springs lodge #1892 participated in the City of Green Cove Springs Christmas festivities. On December 1st, 14 Elks and 8 helpers packed age appropriate gift bags for infants up to teens. Thanks to the generosity of the Lodge Members and PER Association, on December 7th, 15 Elks and 10 helpers distributed bags to over 300 local children.
St. Augustine Elks Lodge #829 heard that the St. John’s Sheriff’s Department needed a donation of bears for its Cuddly Care program. Lodge member Cathy Walsh ordered the bears and took donations from lodge members as well. Leading Knight, Connie Sarnowski, delivered the 47 bears to the sheriff’s department. The mission of the program is to raise the spirits of patients at Flagler Hospital and local nursing homes and has been in existence for nearly 20 years. Many organizations, businesses and private citizens have generously contributed to this program by collecting hundreds of thousands of stuffed animals that have brought smiles to numerous patients’ faces.
St. Augustine Lodge Leading Knight, Connie Sarnowski, delivers teddy bears to Deputy Sharon Borra and Community Affairs Specialist, James Desmond, for the St. John’s Sheriff’s Department cuddly bear program.
Green Cove Springs Elks Lodge #1892 utilized the Elks National Foundation Promise Grant to fund summer guitar lessons for local students. The lodge purchased materials for 10 students and hired a guitar instructor, Marty Farmer, who provided seven hour-long group lessons throughout the summer. Lunch was provided at each session. On July 24, the students performed a recital for approximately 70 Elks and family members and stayed as guests for dinner after the performance.