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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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2688 aed

Destin Lodge donated $1,500 Nov. 3 to the brand-new Destin High School which opened its doors in August 2021. The donation will cover the costs of two automated external defibrillators (AEDs). These AEDs are portable, lifesaving devices designed to treat people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest, a medical condition in which the heart stops beating suddenly and unexpectedly. Pictured are Christine Cruickshank, principal; Robert Griffin, treasurer; Terri Griffin, Elks National Foundation lodge grant coordinator; and Gloria Meade, chaplain.


2688 cath

On Oct. 28, Destin Lodge awarded the $2,000 Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida. Their mission is to work and assist the poor and vulnerable. Many community neighbors are facing eviction or unable to pay their utility bills due to a job loss or reduced hours. Many are going to bed hungry because they don’t have enough food to feed their families. By caring about the individual needs of those they serve, they are transforming lives and providing hope for the future. Pictured are Arielle May, volunteer; Eva Wise, executive director of Catholic Social Services; Robert Griffin, treasurer; Terri Griffin, Elks National Foundation lodge grant coordinator; Gloria Meade, chaplain; and Nick Hutchinson, volunteer.


2688 SC

On Oct. 28, Destin Elks Lodge #2688 awarded $1,750 from its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to Sharing & Caring Inc. of Okaloosa County. The mission of Sharing & Caring is to serve the community as an emergency food bank, providing a basic staple of foods for individuals and families in need who qualify. It is available to anyone who resides within the area of Hurlburt Field on the west, to Destin on the east and to Eglin Air Force Base on the north. Their clients include families, children, seniors, those without homes and those who are unemployed. The majority of clients are often referred to them by churches, social agencies or word of mouth.

Pictured at the check presentation are Robert Griffin, treasurer; Terri Griffin, Elks National Foundation lodge grant coordinator; Michele Seitz of Sharing & Caring; and Gloria Meade, chaplain.


Weekend Food Program Oct 2021 pic

Pensacola Beach Elks Lodge #497 donated its $2,000 Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to the Gulf Breeze Weekend Food Program to benefit children in local schools. The program provides weekend food for children in need at Gulf Breeze elementary, middle and high schools. Also included are Oriole Beach Elementary and Woodlawn Beach Middle schools in Santa Rosa County, Florida. Presenting the donation Oct. 4 is Dan Smith, Exalted Ruler, to Mike Stahl, program director.


1795 womans

On Sept. 20, Fort Walton Lodge presented the S3 Project of the Fort Walton Beach Woman’s Club the $3,500 Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. The Fort Walton Beach Woman’s Club was founded in 1921 and offers community service programs. This grant is specifically for the S3 project with the objective to improve student performance, attendance, personal pride/self-worth and school participation. The grant will be used to purchase the necessary school supplies and personal items as needed for any student in need, including any student experiencing homelessness. Whenever a school identifies a student in need for food, personal health supplies, school supplies, or funding to participate in a school function such as band, it will be funded. As part of its community, the lodge’s goal is to be part of the solution to assist students in achieving academic success and personal growth. Pictured at the check presentation are Taz WrightReynolds, PER, Exalted Ruler; Jamie Clemons, Lodge Secretary; Kevin Clemons, PDD, District Leader; Cissy Wyninegar, lodge member; Dr. Vivian Green, Woman’s Club member; Kathy Pacheco, lodge trustee; Tom Knowles, PER; and Paul Eubanks, PER.


1795 fresh

On Sept. 20, Fort Walton Lodge presented its $2,000 Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to Fresh Start for Children and Families. Fresh Start’s primary focus is helping families achieve long-term self-sufficiency through a nine-month residential and educational program. This grant will help refurbish some existing transitional housing units. A prior tenant with many children was evicted for not keeping their end of the housing agreement. Upon leaving, the tenant destroyed appliances and parts of the building. This grant will help provide replacements for this housing unit and much needed support for the mission of Fresh Start for Children and Families. Pictured at the check presentation are Taz WrightReynolds, PER, Exalted Ruler; Wilma Clayton, life skills manager; Sharron Stephens, property manager; Jamie Clemons, Lodge Secretary; Paul Eubanks, PER; and Donna Tashik, executive director.


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Pensacola Beach Lodge held a golf tournament Sept. 10 at Hidden Creek Golf Club in Navarre, Florida. A total of 140 golfers participated, including members, nonmembers, friends of members and sponsors, and raised more than $29,000 for the lodge’s charity account. Charities that will benefit from the tournament include Boy Scouts of America, Santa Rosa Kid’s House, Gulf Coast Kid’s House, The Miracle League, Favor House, Bill Bond Baseball, AHERO, Weekend Food Program, Children in Crisis, Salvation Army, Bethany Christian Services, Children’s Home Society, ARC Gateway, USO of Northwest Florida, Council on Aging, Pensacola Beach Elementary School, Army of Hope, Family Fishing Rodeo and Kids Fishing Rodeo. More than 40 volunteers assisted to make the tournament a success. Special events included a hospitality tent, raffle, silent auction, hole-in-one prizes, putting contest and several specialty holes. Awards were given for the top three teams, longest drive and closest to the pin. “I would like to personally thank everyone who came out on this beautiful day to help us raise money for our designated charities. We could not have had such a huge success without the community’s involvement, the golfers and all our volunteers,” remarked Darrell Gossett, tournament chair.

The group picture was taken before the tournament. Also pictured are Gossett as well as member Gary Booker with Dan Smith, Exalted Ruler.


497 SR

On Sept. 1, Pensacola Beach Elks Lodge #497 donated $2,000 from its charity account to the Santa Rosa Kid's House, which assists survivors of child abuse in Santa Rosa County, Florida. Pictured are Cap Pratt, PDD, lodge trustee, and Kelli Sanders, Santa Rosa Kid's House program director.


2624 feed fosters 

On Aug. 26, Crestview Lodge made a monetary donation as well as a donation of books and supplies to Feed Fosters, an organization that helps feed foster families in northwest Florida. Along with donating the lodge’s $2,500 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant, the lodge gifted 17 copies of “What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing,” by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Perry, MD, PhD. Additionally, they donated 500 bags to assist with food delivery and storage which included thick plastic shopping bags with handles and a cardboard bottom, merchandise bags, food service bags, takeout bags and gift bags. Savannah Cox, assistant director of Feed Fosters, accepts the check from Bud Tipton, Exalted Ruler. According to, Feed Fosters began providing meals to foster families April 12, 2020. “We saw it as an opportunity to support local restaurants during the Coronavirus pandemic by purchasing all the event meals directly from them.”


2624 joey background

Crestview raised $500 for the Brotherhood Ride for their 22-day bicycle trip from Naples, Florida, to ground zero in New York, honoring Florida’s fallen first responders and all first responders who died from 9/11-related illnesses. The check was mailed to them Aug. 6. Donations were given by lodge veterans for first gentleman Joey Simonelli’s pin, and the lodge donated the rest. Simonelli “wanted to do a patriotic pin, as his father is a retired law enforcement officer, and to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Plus, Joey loves the to support the Brotherhood Ride. As we travel, he passes out his pins and they are attached to a card with a QR code on it, so if people want to support the Brotherhood Ride, they can,” said State President, Suzi Simonelli.


1795 dock

Fort Walton Elks Lodge #1795 celebrated its dock restoration and reopening after its damage from 2020’s Hurricane Sally with a community ribbon-cutting ceremony Aug. 13. The lodge welcomed the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce ambassadors and the Elks family. This event kicked off a very successful weekend which opened the lodge doors to the community to show them what Elks are all about. Throughout the weekend there was entertainment, food and fun for all. Current members, new members, transfer members and future members were in attendance all three days. Lodge Exalted Ruler, Taz WrightReynolds, PER, commented, “I am so excited about our leadership team coming together with the community and making this event a huge success. The festivities lasted until weekend end with the famous Dusty’s shrimp country low boil. The dock is up and ready for Elks to visit by boat. The lodge is located on the wonderful and beautiful Okaloosa Island right on Choctawhatchee Bay.” Pictured at the opening are the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce ambassadors and lodge officers and members.


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On March 27, Crestview Elks Lodge #2624 had the drug trailer at the annual Crestview Triple B BBQ Festival. They partnered with the Crestview Area Youth Association (CAYA), a local youth football and cheer organization for children ages 5-12, and Crestview’s wrestling club. All three organizations had a booth and Elroy the Elk visited with many children and took photos. The three groups also shared a dunk booth. It was $5 for three throws and the dunk tank was a CAYA and wrestling fundraiser. Anyone who threw at the dunk tank receive a drug awareness sticker and ribbon from the Elks. They gave out 200 stickers and ribbons. They also passed out lodge information and secured two membership applications.