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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497 af

On April 18, Pensacola Beach Elks Lodge #497 donated $5,000 to the Gulf Breeze High School AFJROTC to help with costs associated with uniforms and competition travel. The group has served the lodge for Flag Day and the annual beach Veterans Day parade for many years. JROTC teaches leadership, character development, physical fitness and aerospace science.

Pictured are Elk Greg Eddins; cadets RJ Maiga, Jonah Studdard, Natalie Gall, and Zara Tavai; and Jim Rodriguez, PER, Exalted Ruler.

 

2747 cadet

During the Niceville High School AFJROTC awards ceremony April 17, PER Don Dowdy of , Twin Cities Elks Lodge #2747 presented Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Jackson with the Florida State Elks Association Northwest District $3,000 AFJROTC scholarship.

 

1795 aba

Using its Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant, Fort Walton Lodge donated $2,000 March 28 to the ABA Behavioral Health Applied Behavior Analysis school for costs associated with the expansion of current facilities used to treat and educate children and young adults on the autism spectrum. Prior to the expansion, children were comingled, creating emotional stressors for clients when surrounded by others. ABA Behavioral Health's mission is to provide children and young adults on the autism spectrum with meaningful life-changing therapy in a positive and loving environment. The need for ABA Behavioral Health services continues to grow and has increased to the point that local ABA offices need to expand or add onto existing facilities to address the increased need for therapy services.

Pictured are Margaret Trujillo, BCBA, ABA Behavioral Health owner; Danielle Fitzgerald, BCBA assistant clinical director; and Jamie Clemons, Lodge Secretary.

 

1795 weight

On March 26, Fort Walton Lodge donated $750 to the award-winning Choctawhatchee High School weightlifting team as they continue their season with the goal of returning to the Florida High School Sports Association (FHSAA) state finals.

Pictured are students Cole Tabb, Titus Thornell, Jalil Griffin, all part of the 2023 2A weightlifting state championship team. Tabb was the 2023 Olympic and traditional weightlifting Florida state champion and was a Florida state champion in track in his junior year. He was selected as the USA Today 35 Offensive Player of the Year. He has signed and committed to Stanford University.

 

497 loaves

Pensacola Beach Lodge donated $2,500 from lodge charity funds March 22 to Loaves & Fishes of Pensacola, which operates a thrift store, and the proceeds help their soup kitchen continue to serve those who are hungry and provide for families in need. Loaves & Fishes has been serving the Pensacola area for more than 40 years. They also maintain an emergency shelter.

Pictured are Ken “KB” Branch, PER, endorsed District Vice President, and LaFaye Hill of Loaves & Fishes.

 

497 manna

On March 22, Pensacola Beach Lodge donated $2,500 from lodge charity funds to Manna Food Bank Inc., a local grassroots organization fighting hunger in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. They provide groceries directly to individuals and families in need at no charge. Most of the funding comes from individuals, foundations, faith-based organizations, corporations and businesses. Manna is nonsectarian, community-focused and volunteer-supported. They believe every person has a right to live free of hunger and to be treated with respect and dignity.

Pictured are Ken “KB” Branch, PER, endorsed District Vice President, and Milissa Blanton, Manna Food Bank marketing and events manager.

 

1795 back

On March 6, Fort Walton Lodge donated its $2,000 Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church for the backpack program, which assists Annette P. Edwins Elementary School, located in Fort Walton Beach. The program provides food to help families that may be forced to sacrifice nutritional meals because they have to pay for medicine, utilities, gas and other supplies for the household due to their financial situation. This school averages 45 students per week who need and qualify for the food assistance program.

Pictured are Joe Reames, trustee; Tom McLaughlin, Exalted Ruler; Bernie Coalt, member; Mary Ann Coalt, Treasurer; Jamie Clemons, Secretary; Paul Eubanks, PER, trustee; church members Waldi Anguiano, Sandy See, Candy Rains, Janet Eblen, Shirley Bow, Bill Bow, and Betsy Stein; and Mark Wynn, Lecturing Knight.

 

1795 food

Fort Walton Lodge donated $4,000 from its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant March 8 to Sharing & Caring of Okaloosa County Inc., located in Fort Walton Beach, Niceville and Crestview, Florida. Sharing & Caring is an emergency food source for those in need who qualify within guidelines. 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, the unhoused and the unemployed. Area churches, civic organizations, individuals, businesses and the United Way fund the all-volunteer organizations.

Pictured are Joe Reames, trustee; Paul Eubanks, PER, trustee; Tom McLaughlin, Exalted Ruler; Ken Winzeler, board president; Sharon McLaughlin, pantry volunteer; Andi Crawford, volunteer; Penny Eubanks, manager; Rob Parks, Leading Knight; Mark Wynn, Lecturing Knight; and Michael “Taz” WrightReynolds, PER.

 

497 flag

Pensacola Beach Lodge presented a certificate of honor Feb. 2 to Gulf Breeze Camping World for flying the United States flag. This is part of the Elks Grand Lodge recognition program. This certificate is presented to businesses and merchants around the area of the lodge for proper display of flying the flag during the day and at night with proper illumination.

Anthony Waight, general manager, is pictured with the certificate.

 

1795 sws

On Dec. 15, Fort Walton Elks Lodge #1795 presented a $500 check to Saving with Soul Pet Rescue of Northwest Florida. Saving with Soul is a local foster-based pet rescue which, in 2023, found new homes and provided medical care for more than 1,500 dogs and cats. This donation will help SWS in its latest challenge of establishing a much-needed low-cost spay and neuter clinic option for the local community. Their motto is “Help Us Help Shelter Animals Find Their Way HOME!”

Pictured are Jeff Mullins, member; Jennifer Allen Hagedorn, SWS director; and Tammie Mullins, member.

 

1795 cheer

On Nov. 15, Fort Walton Lodge donated $500 for travel costs of the award-winning Choctawhatchee High School Cheerleader Squad as they traveled with the football team to the state playoffs. Unfortunately, the football team was not in the finals.

Pictured are cheerleading squad members Mallory Mendoza, Hailey Davis, Sofia Ulloa, Haley Hartranft, Claire Ennis, Adri Heckaman, Rayleigh Scheiber, Jazlyn Jackomis, Kylianne Courtney and Andre Bridgewater.

 

1795 science

Fort Walton Elks Lodge #1795 donated $1,000 to the Emerald Coast Science Center Nov. 13. The center provides hands-on experience in science for the Okaloosa County School District as well as people of all ages. The center's mission is to inspire and grow a scientifically engaged community, with workshops, exhibits and opportunities for a wide range of interests.

Pictured are Tom McLaughlin, Exalted Ruler; Rob Parks, Leading Knight; Tom Knowles, PER, Lecturing Knight; Paul Eubanks, PER, trustee; Mary Ann Coalt, Treasurer; Diane Fraser, ECSC director; Jamie Clemons, Secretary; Dusty Austin, trustee; Marcia WrightReynolds, Loyal Knight; Denny Abair, Tiler; Taz WrightReynolds, PER, board of directors chair and trustee.