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Florida Elks News Editor:
Rachael King
Entire contents copyright 2023 by the
Florida State Elks Association Inc.
P.O. Box 49
Umatilla, FL 32784-0049

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Florida Elks News Online

948 paws

On May 17, Miami Elks Lodge #948 donated $1,500 to Protect the Paws, an organization that purchases bulletproof vests for area K-9 officers. This gift will armor two Florida International University Police explosive detection K-9s.

Kathe Holmes of Protect the Paws; members Ned Smith, Sharon Weiss, Tim Brockland, Jeff Muehlfeld, Mayda Herrera, Bill Bang, Arian Gomez, Jose Morin, Tony Sellers, Linda Perricone, Adolfo Dominguez, and Gilbert Serein; and Nancy Hoyle of Protect the Paws presented the check to Officer Lance Monaco and K-9 Nitro from the FIU Police Department.


551 kids

On May 18, Key West Elks Lodge #551 donated its $2,000 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to Kids Come First, an organization that provides students with shoes, clothes, backpacks and afternoon snacks; helps them improve their self-image among their peers; and guides them with the tools they need to assist in their education.

Pictured are Koleen Bethel, vice president of Kids Come First, and Dennis Wardlow, Exalted Ruler.


1872 pks

On March 8, Florida Keys Lodge donated $2,000 from its Florida State Elks Association matching grant money for receiving the Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to PKS School. The money will be used for kids' snacks.

Pictured are Sherill Tarbell, Leading Knight; Kim Youngblood, chaplain; and Lori Taylor, principal.


1872 mkt

Florida Keys Elks Lodge 1872 set up a booth at the Gigantic Nautical Flea Market Feb. 25 in Islamorada, Florida, to promote their annual ladies dolphin tournament fundraiser. They are raffling tickets for their Florida Keys survival cooler and taking sign-ups for the June tournament. The market is an annual event attended by thousands and is hosted by the local Rotary Club chapter, which works with the lodge to provide student scholarships. All money raised at this event goes towards student scholarships in the Upper Keys.

Pictured are lodge member Steven Weber; NFL Hall of Fame member Jimmy Johnson; and lodge members Chip Worley, Gina Giro, Wilmarie Lopez, and Frank Veltri, Exalted Ruler.


948 ballet

On Dec. 5, Miami Lodge donated $3,000 from its Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to Sylvia Padron and her ballet dance team at Arthur and Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts in Goulds, Florida.

Pictured are Clara Vust; Sylvia Padron; Sharon Weiss, lodge member; Bill Bang, PER, Exalted Ruler; Arian Gomez, Leading Knight, and members of the ballet dance team.


1872 party

Florida Keys Lodge utilized its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to hold its annual children’s holiday party Dec. 10. More than 100 children and their families were treated to lunch and a magic show by magician Michael Trixx. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived with a huge red bag full of gifts and goody bags for each child. It was a wonderful day full of volunteers providing fun for their community.

Pictured are Santa and Mrs. Claus (lodge RV managers Jim and Terri Fowler).


1872 church

Florida Keys Lodge presented Pastor Kerry Foote of the Burton Memorial Church in Tavernier, Florida, with a $2,000 donation from the Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to assist with purchasing goods for their food pantry, which is frequently visited by those still affected by the COVID pandemic. Pastor Foote thanked the Lodge and stated that “the holidays are a crucial time to come together as a community and help one another.” Lodge members frequently volunteer at the church to assist with the food pantry and on Wednesdays for the free dinners held at the church.

Pictured are Pastor Kerry Foote and Brenda Cockrell, PER, lodge grant coordinator.


1872 pantry

On Nov. 17, Florida Keys Lodge presented a $2,500 check to Coral Shores High School using funds from the Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant. The donation is for the student food pantry program. Like other communities throughout the country, this community continues to be affected by the COVID pandemic and other long-term health issues from having the virus. Some parents work two jobs or receive small unemployment benefits, which often do not cover the rising cost of groceries to feed their families. Some businesses have closed and parents lost their jobs and do not qualify for benefits. The donation will allow school project volunteers to purchase nonperishable food items in bulk for their students in need. The pantry is open to all high school students. Students may come by the pantry before morning classes to get protein breakfast bars, fruit cups or juice. Many students also stop in at lunchtime. Teachers are volunteering their time to assist as needed. The main purpose of the student food pantry is directed at students whose families are facing food insecurity. These students sometimes take care of their younger siblings while their parents are working two jobs and face barriers to grocery shopping. This program allows students to take home a backpack with enough food for weekend meals. Kids sign up to receive a backpack through the administration office and pick it up on Friday afternoons. Students return backpacks on Monday and have the option of signing up for the following week. Currently there are more than 25 children signed up to receive these meals. There are several dozen more students who drop in before class or lunchtime. Volunteers also supply students with easy-to-prepare nutritional recipes and words of encouragement in each bag.

Pictured are Brenda Cockrell, PER, lodge grant coordinator, and Laura Lietaert, Coral Shores High School principal.


1872 drug

Ray Lozano, CEO of Prevention Plus, spoke to nearly 1,800 students in sixth through 12th grades along with parents, adults, teachers, administration members and Florida Keys Elks Lodge members. Lozano brought his knowledge and humor to the stage and educated the audience on the dangers of vaping, marijuana, THC, and addiction and the impact they have on our bodies and minds during this three-day event. Since 1986, Ray Lozano has educated and entertained thousands of students in hundreds of middle schools and high schools from Alaska to Florida as well as the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. These presentations were made possible by State Drug Awareness Chair, Denny Tarbell, PDD, Florida Keys Lodge member.

Pictured are Ray Lozano; Denny Tarbell, PDD; Helen Garcia, Key West Lodge Secretary; and Richard Judge, Key West lodge trustee.



948 school

Shalotte Mills, school administrator at Mandarin Lakes K-8 Academy in Homestead, Florida, requested assistance from Miami Lodge. The school is located next to a homeless shelter and migrant camp, and the school has many students who cannot afford basic necessities. On Dec. 8, the lodge provided toiletries, uniforms and sneakers using funds from its Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant.

Pictured are Bill Bang, PER Exalted Ruler; Jennene Ricard, lodge member; and Shalotte Mills, school administrator.

While in Homestead, Miami Lodge assisted Candice Myles, community relationship manager for the Chapman Partnership, by donating toiletries, uniforms, sneakers, socks and underwear using the Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant.

948 chap

Pictured are Sharon Weiss, lodge member; Gilbert Serein of Chapman Partnership; and Bill Bang, PER, Exalted Ruler.


948 fridge

On Nov. 15, Miami Lodge assisted The Village (FREE)DGE in Miami, an organization started by Sherina Jones South, a Florida business owner. She set up community refrigerators outside of local businesses that are accessible 24/7 and filled with fresh foods for those in need. The organization’s motto is "Take What You Need, Leave Something for Others.” The lodge held a Thanksgiving food drive in the lounge with live music and collected food to stock the (FREE)DGEs.

Pictured are Bill Bang, PER, Exalted Ruler; Sharon Weiss, lodge member; and the staff of The Village (FREE)DGE.


551 autism

On Dec. 15, Key West Elks Lodge #551 presented a $10,000 check to the Autism Society of the Keys using its Elks National Foundation Beacon and Spotlight grants as well as the Florida State Elks Association matching Beacon Grant. All the money stays local to help children with autism.

Pictured are Donald Curry, Exalted Ruler; Sean T. Brandenburg, police chief; Secretary, Helen Garcia; Officer, Matt Haley; Volunteer Coordinator, Hope Haley; Jill Campbell, executive director of the Autism Society, and her son, Craig Campbell; and Dennis Wardlow, Leading Knight.