On Oct. 15, Sebastian Elks Lodge #2714 was a sponsor of the Sebastian Police Department COPE Unit’s second annual golf tournament, with a $1,200 donation. In addition, several lodge members participated as registered golfers and provided two volunteers from the lodge and Ladies auxiliary to assist with ticket sales for mulligans and raffles. The mission of the COPE Unit is to create partnerships between the community and the Sebastian Police Department, to develop and employ proactive crime prevention strategies, and to promote the department’s resources to the community. The unit hosts events throughout the city where members meet with citizens, distribute crime prevention materials and build relationships to create a lasting environment of cooperation between the police and the citizens. The EL-DOEs, which is the lodge’s Ladies auxiliary, also launched sales of a lottery board raffle, with all proceeds going to the Sebastian Police Department’s Shop-with-a-Cop program.
Pictured are Pauline Talbott, Lodge Drug Awareness Education Chair and EL-DOEs co-director, and Mary Ducharme, EL-DOEs Treasurer, along with some raffle items.
At Southeast Central District Vice President Jerry Harrington’s Oct. 15 visitation to Port St. Lucie Elks Lodge #2658, a bucket-drop for donations to the Elks Disaster Relief Fund was conducted. A total of $5,000 was collected and mailed to the Florida State Elks Association office to be added to the fund to assist victims of Hurricane Ian.
On Oct. 5, Melbourne Elks Lodge #1744 used an Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant along with a matching Florida State Elks Association grant to donate $8,000 to the Brevard branch of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. This donation provided 42,100 pounds (over 21 tons) of food that was distributed to 35 food pantries/kitchens in the Melbourne and Palm Bay areas.
On Oct. 12, Melbourne Lodge used an Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to donate $3,000 to the Melbourne Police Foundation to purchase 50 food vouchers for precooked meals for families that are food insecure. Each of the 50 vouchers will feed 10 people for a total of 500 meals.
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.
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.
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.
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.