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.
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.
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.
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.
On Sept. 14, Fort Walton Lodge donated $5,000 from its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to the Food for Thought organization in Destin, Florida. For 11 years, the organization has fought childhood hunger in Walton and Okaloosa counties. Currently they provide weekly access to food to more than 3,000 food-insecure students across 32 school locations.
Pictured are Terri Griffin, PER; Tiffanie Nelson, Food for Thought founder and executive director; Rob Parks, Leading Knight; and Carole Burger, PER.
On Sept. 10, Fort Walton Elks Lodge #1795 donated $1,000 as a sponsor and participated in the dragon boat race and festival for the Bring Hope Now organization. The group is known as the Hope Squad, with a mission statement that says, “By bringing ‘Hope Squads’ to the schools, we seek to reduce self-destructive behavior and youth suicide by training, building, and creating change in our schools and communities.” These programs are for local elementary, middle and high schools. Their vision is TARGET ZERO to change schools’ culture to more connectedness and kindness, leading to zero suicides. These programs are peer-to-peer suicide prevention for schools & military.
Pictured are lodge members at the event.
Holley-Navarre Elks Lodge #2787 donated its $3,000 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant Aug. 30 to the Bread of Life Food Pantry and Clothing Closet at the Billory Baptist Church in Navarre, Florida. These monies will provide support in delivering canned goods, clothing and food to families in the surrounding community. Some lodge members are regular volunteers in support of the food pantry operations.
Pictured are Beth Baker and Rina Longmire, pantry volunteers; James Burke, Exalted Ruler; Heather White, pantry manager; and Skip Dalle Molle, lodge grant coordinator.
On Aug. 2, Destin Elks Lodge #2688 donated $3,000 to the Blue Door Ministry, run by St. Andrews by the Sea Episcopal Church in Destin. The ministry provides hot lunches twice a week in coordination with other congregations in the area, sack lunches, a clothes closet, a food pantry, showers, food stamp application services, local bus passes and Harvest-House vouchers. They also run, support and operate a bike shop, which receives donations from individuals and businesses in the area who are replacing their fleets of beach bikes. The shop repairs and services hundreds of bikes each year. The bikes are given free of charge to anyone who is homeless and children in need.
Pictured are Terri Griffin, lodge member; Ann Harmuth, ministry volunteer; and Robert Griffin, Lodge Treasurer.
Holley-Navarre Elks Lodge #2787 participated in the Outdoor Market at Pik-itz May 6 in Navarre, Florida, promoting the Drug Awareness program and Elks membership. Members teamed with the Navarre High School Naval Junior ROTC unit, which also happens to be one of the lodge’s legacy charities, to share this information with more than 50 attendees and provided the Elks membership quick response code (QR-code) to everyone seeking information on membership in the Elks.
Pictured are cadets Deryn Duzagadusmez and Ethan Feliciano with Drug Awareness Co-Chairs Skip Dalle Molle and Jeff Grady and Tom Stevens, endorsed District Deputy.
On May 6, Warrington Elks Lodge #2108 participated in the Burger Battle by the Bay at Maritime Park in Pensacola, Florida. The event is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Pensacola and raised nearly $25,000 for Florida’s Take Stock in Children program, which provides college scholarships to children who are underprivileged who maintain good grades, stay out of trouble and stay off drugs through middle school and high school. The lodge entered two Elk burger cooking teams — one led by Ralph Daniels, PER and one led by Randy Dufner, trustee. Thousands of people attended to vote for the best burger. The lodge provided Elks membership information and had a tent sent up to promote Drug Awareness. They gave out more than 250 bags of drug awareness information and approximately 400 red ribbons. The judges selected Dufner’s team as the winner of the best burger in the amateur category. One of the judges was Chef Darian Hernandez, a recent winner of the Food Network television show “Chopped.”
Pictured is the winning team from Warrington Lodge.
On Feb. 13, Fort Walton Elks Lodge #1795 donated $1,250 to the local youth organization Future Stars Football Clinic (FSFC), which serves the Fort Walton Beach area to develop youths ages 6 to 13. The objective of the structured nine-week clinic, which balances fun, rigorous training and mentorship to produce a positive learning environment, is to instill self-confidence via participant sports safety and fundamentals. FSFC also creates an environment in which children not only integrate as a team through sport but as a community via two community service events. The lodge donation will help purchase greatly needed sports equipment, which will help the youths train harder, more efficiently and safely. FSFC believes sports are a great way to build character, self-esteem, sportsmanship and leadership skills. Christopher Torres, CEO/coach, has grown this program to a new level and will serve several hundred kids in their introduction to sports and fair play.
Pictured are Paul Eubanks, PER, lodge board chair; Kathy Pacheco, lodge trustee; Marcia WrightReynolds, Lecturing Knight; Michael “Taz” WrightReynolds, PER, Exalted Ruler; Chris Torres, CEO/coach; Tom Knowles, PER; Dusty Austin, lodge trustee; Rob Parks, Loyal Knight; Kevin Clemons, PDD, District Leader; and Tom McLaughlin, Leading Knight.
On Feb. 7, Holley-Navarre Elks Lodge #2787 donated $600 to support the operations of the Navarre Youth Sports Association (NYSA) complex. NYSA has been a longtime supporter of the community and supporter of the Elks Hoop Shoot, where local and regional events have taken place. The NYSA is a nonprofit all-volunteer organization. The athletes can enjoy participating in several different sports at both the recreational and competitive level year-round. The NYSA strives to teach children of the Holley-Navarre community good sportsmanship, honesty, courage and respect so they may be well-adjusted, stronger and happier children. There are no residency requirements to join the NYSA or to participate in the programs.
Pictured are TJ Carey, Exalted Ruler, and Canna Ellerbe, Navarre Youth Sports Association office manager.