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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1520 xmas backpack

After seven months of planning, Fort Pierce Elks Lodge #1520 undertook the Operation 2019 Christmas backpack program at St. Lucie Public Schools including Lakewood Park Elementary School in Fort Pierce, Fla., where a local news station took video. The lodge used funds from the $10,000 Elks National Foundation Impact Grant, backpack lodge funds, and lodge member donations to buy food, new toys, school clothes, hygiene kits, snacks, Christmas candy, and more for hundreds of children who attend St. Lucie Public Schools and their families who are homeless. More than 30 Elks spent Dec. 8 sorting and packing thousands of items. St. Lucie Public Schools assisted by having two large school trucks pick up the 10 pallets loaded with holiday donations. The delivery was Dec 11. They also presented $100 checks to 10 schools to buy school logo shirts for students who helped other students during the holiday season. The Elks backpack program started by helping a few kids each weekend and six years later they are helping more than 300 kids with food items every weekend. This was their largest Christmas event with more than 1,000 kids helped. The program has 35-40 volunteers and many of them have helped since the program’s beginning, an integral reason for the program's growing success. All grants and donations go toward the program.


Melbourne Elks Lodge #1744 used the $5,000 from their Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant and the matching funds from the Florida State Elks Association to put together 200 Thanksgiving grocery packages that included a 12-15 pound turkey, green beans, mushroom soup, fried onion rings, corn, rice, five pounds of potatoes, stuffing, popcorn, Jello, gravy and cranberry sauce. The groceries were given to families whose children attend one of five area schools who might not have had a good Thanksgiving if not for the Elks.


2658 riders

On Oct. 12, the Port St. Lucie Elks Lodge motorcycle riders club put together over three pallets of goods and veterinary items for the Hurricane Dorian relief fundraiser. The donations were raised through their breakfast fundraiser, from lodge member donations and from themselves. Sheriff Ken Mascara was their police escort to the airport where Missionary Flights International is hangered. Exalted Ruler, Lynn Tripoli, was also present as they unloaded their truck and trailer full of goods and loaded them onto pallets that were then loaded onto a plane bound later that day to The Bahamas. Pete Jordan, president of the club, said, “It’s nice to see how people pull together to help one another in the time of need. It feels good to be a part of the fundraising for those distressed families. Hurricane Dorian was right off our Florida coast and just several miles away from our lodge and homes. That could have just as well been us in dire need of food and water. So being Elks, we care, we share and were there.”

Pictured are Jim and Nelly Devery; Lynn Tripoli, Exalted Ruler; Rick Rubinstein; Sheriff Ken Mascara; Pete Jordan, president; Dave Hedgcock; Larry Kristensen; Dan Shipco; Tom Randazzo, vice president; Denise Kristensen; Jill Randazzo; and Teresa Shipco. The photo was taken by Alex Jordan. Not pictured are Gina Jordan, treasurer; Mario and Vivian Orduz; Margie Hedgcock; and Jeanne Rubinstein. The entire club was instrumental in making this happen. Work and other priorities kept these members from attending the event but they were ever so much a part of this venture.


On Sept. 14, Viera Lodge member Billy Wirth, PER who was recently diagnosed with lymphoma offered to have his head shaved at the district visitation held at Stuart-Jensen Lodge. Wirth was beginning treatment the following week for the disease and wanted to have something positive to come from this dreadful situation. Having been a past first responder and having befriended District Vice President Sal Lentine before his untimely death, he wanted to have the proceeds of $500 go to the Elks’ first responder's fund in Lentine's name.


1774 school supplies

Vero Beach Elementary was awarded a Positive Behavior Intervention Specialist Award in association with the University of South Florida for 2018-2019 for being a model school for positive behavior. Vero Beach Elks Lodge has been a very important part of their success. Using their Elks National Foundation Impact Grant, the lodge continues its Elks store at the school, “Elks Love Kids of Character”, awarding children for their good deeds during the school year.

They also provide funds to the school to purchase uniforms for students who are homeless. In addition to funding, the Elks give their time; their presence at the school shows the students that their community cares about them.

Vero Beach Lodge Exalted Ruler, Paul Diaz, PER.; Pat Diaz; and June Maher, PER delivered school supplies to Vero Beach Elementary Aug. 8.