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Florida Elks News Editor:
Rachael King
Entire contents copyright 2022 by the
Florida State Elks Association Inc.
P.O. Box 49
Umatilla, FL 32784-0049

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On Aug. 18, Viera Lodge donated $500 from its unencumbered charity account to the Children’s Hunger Project, a community project that provides for children who are identified by teachers as being at risk of not receiving proper nutrition at home on weekends or when they are out of school, a risk segment that is rapidly growing.


On Aug. 26, Melbourne Elks Lodge #1744 used an Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to donate $2,000 to the Daily Bread Inc., a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that feeds up to 180 people a day who are food-insecure. Many of those individuals aren't able to afford the cost of food because of implications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The donation will be used to purchase fresh meat, vegetables and fruit.


2714 drug 1 2714 drug 2

On Aug. 5, Sebastian Lodge promoted the Drug Awareness Education program at the back-to-school event at Barber Street Sports Complex in Sebastian, Florida, sponsored by the Sebastian Police Department. Drug Awareness bags containing coloring books, crayons and red ribbons were given to approximately 150 in attendance. 

Pictured are members Tony Vitale, Carol Vitale (also a ladies auxiliary member), Pam Saracene, Elroy the Elk (Mary Ducharme, ladies auxiliary treasurer) and Pauline Talbott, Lodge Drug Awareness Education Chair.

Also pictured are members of the Sebastian Police Department with Elroy the Elk.


Viera Elks Lodge #2817 was packed May 13 for its first 1980s party, featuring local ‘80s rock band Rios. Guests came in costume and the hall was decorated appropriately. A total of $700 was raised from this event, $250 of which came from the auction of a donated guitar and $200 of which was contributed by the lodge’s charity fund. Proceeds were given to the local chapter of Life Recaptured, an organization that supports people impacted by human trafficking. The event was organized by member Heidi Vargas.


1774 essay

Vero Beach Elks Lodge #1774 sponsored two state winners of the Florida State Elks Association’s Americanism essay contest. Mya Eckerd-Harris was the Division I first-place winner and Luke McGuigan was the Division II second-place winner. This year’s theme was What Does it Mean to Love your Country? Both students attend Storm Grove School in Vero Beach, Florida.

Pictured are Paul Diaz, District Vice President; Mya Eckerd-Harris; Luke McGuigan; Joe Palowich, Exalted Ruler; and Darlene Short, PER.


2714 pam  2714 diane

On April 19, members from Sebastian Elks Lodge #2714 attended the scholarship night at Sebastian River High School.

Pam Saracene, a member of the lodge and the ladies auxiliary, presented a total of $5,000 in scholarships to high school seniors on behalf of the lodge. There were four $1,000 scholarships, one $500 scholarship and two $250 scholarships.

Diane Lemire, also a member of the lodge and the ladies auxiliary, presented a $1,000 scholarship to a senior on behalf of the ladies auxiliary.


On March 5, State President Suzi Simonelli along with Paul Diaz, District Vice President, and a large delegation of Elks from around the state visited the “Elks Love Kids of Character” store at Vero Beach Elementary. Lodge volunteers, the principal, the guidance counselor and a few students participated in the program. Vero Beach Elks Lodge #1774 uses its Elks National Foundation Impact Grant to stock the store with supplies.  The purpose of the program is to encourage positive behavior among the students. Based on feedback from volunteers, teachers, parents and school staff, this program has been a great success.

For the first years, students earned tokens for positive behavior, such as kindness to others, helping teachers and staff, good grades, and good attendance, and they could turn those tokens in to shop in the school store for items such as school supplies, toiletries, toys and food. Many of the students at Vero Beach Elementary come from disadvantaged homes, so this opportunity is a great incentive for many of them. Since the pandemic, this program has changed significantly. The students now fill out order forms based on digital points received and store volunteers fill those orders on a weekly basis. The program has also been used in encouraging students to follow health guidelines, wearing masks and social distancing during the pandemic. This program operates every week of the year, excluding holidays and the summer.

The lodge has also purchased uniforms for students who are homeless or disadvantaged and volunteers have assembled toiletry bags for students who are homeless. They also put together treat bags for the school Halloween trunk-or-treat event and treat bags for graduating fifth graders after their first year living with the pandemic. Currently there are 10 program volunteers made up mostly of Elks and they have all been involved with the program for at least three years. Elk volunteers are Karen Guidry, program manager; Laura McFayden; Linda Colontrelle; Deb Stuller; Gail Boatwright; Bonnie Swanson and Don Guidry.


Viera Elks Lodge #2817 continued its support of local veterans by providing furniture to three veterans in January at a total of $450 and mattresses and bedding to six veterans in March at a total of $1,800. All donations were for veterans transitioning to permanent housing through the VOA/SSVF (Volunteers of America/Supportive Services for Veterans Families) Transitional Housing Program. The funds were provided by the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Focus Grant. In addition, the grant provided $215 to assist one veteran with an electric bill, $230 to assist two veterans with car repairs and $250 to assist one veteran with a rental deposit.


Viera Lodge held its 17th annual golf classic March 13, chaired again by member Karen Renzi. There were 79 participants, 33 hole sponsors and 17 boosters. Approximately $6,400 was raised for the lodge and its charities.


New Viera Lodge member Heidi Vargas hosted Salsa Night Feb. 5 with a Mexican buffet and salsa dance lessons. The event raised funds for a new charity for the lodge — the local chapter of Life Recaptured — an organization that supports those impacted by human trafficking. The donation amount was $700.


On Jan. 21, Viera Elks Lodge #2817 partnered with a popular local band, St. John’s Wood, for a charity gala to support one of the lodge’s favorite charities — Genesis House — a facility which provides transitional shelter for women and their children who are experiencing homelessness, long-term housing for student mothers and their children, and shelter for pregnant women and their children who are homeless. The band donated its time and tips for the charity; in all, the lodge raised $2,000 for Genesis House.


On March 7, West St. Lucie Elks Lodge #2823 donated the remainder of its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant, $2,233.62, to Grace Pack Food Bank to help children in St. Lucie County, Florida, who are food insecure. This pantry provides weekly bags of food to children in need.