Roger Spencer, Exalted Ruler of Fort Myers Elks Lodge #1288, and David Lake, PSP present 120 pairs of children’s unicorn slippers Feb. 9 to Nadereh Salim, CEO of the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida. The Children’s Network of Southwest Florida is a private, nonprofit agency that administers the child welfare system in five southwest Florida counties. Its mission is to work with the community to protect children and preserve families. The slippers were donated to the Florida State Elks Association by the Dan-Dee Company to be distributed to children who are underprivileged or handicapped or who have special needs in Florida.
In December, Punta Gorda Lodge Elks Lodge #2606 donated to the St. Vincent de Paul food bank and the Jesus Loves You Ministry for those who are homeless using the Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. On Dec 13, the lodge held a Christmas dinner and dance benefit for the Charlotte County Foster Children Christmas Program and raised $1,700.
Pictured with the gifts are Sharon Bienvenue; Linda Killian, public relations; Helga Kuzmik, chaplain; Karen Rohm, president; Sue Crady, vice president; Judy Smith; Mary Gail Phillips, secretary; Kathie Flecken; Tammy Britt; Linda Schumacher; Sue Bemister; Cathy Chartan, treasurer; and Wanda Morris.
Pictured with the grocery donations are Sharon Bienvenue, Helga Kuzmik, Sue Crady, Linda Killian, Sue Bemister, Tammy Britt, Judy Smith, Wanda Morris, Karen Rohm, Linda Schumacher and Kathie Flecken.
For many years, the Deep Creek Ladies of Elks have sponsored an Angel Tree for the children from the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Charlotte County, Florida. This year, Melissa Nelson, Director, informed them that these children and their families had been adversely aﬀected by the pandemic and therefore each child was asking for only one gift and nonperishable food for their families. On Nov. 2, the Angel Tree was set up and decorated with pearl angels made by member Judi Anderson. On Nov. 4, tags with 115 children’s names and wishes were put on the tree. A mere two weeks later, the last tag was removed. By Dec. 9, all gifts had been returned and there was a plethora of nonperishable food. On Dec. 10, Big Brother/Big Sister volunteers came to pick everything up. On the first trip, a large SUV was packed full with gifts. They returned with the SUV and a pickup truck for the food. In addition to all this, Deep Creek Lodge donated 115 gift cards totaling $2,300 from Publix so the families could purchase perishable foods for their holiday dinner.
On Sept. 24, Fort Myers Lodge officers presented its $3,000 Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to Major Tim Gilliam of the Salvation Army pantry in Fort Myers, Florida. Food pantry personnel try to help everyone who comes to the Outreach Service Center for food. Pictured are Eric Lane, campaign and partnership manager of the Salvation Army; Alan Anderson, Loyal Knight; Roger Spencer, Exalted Ruler; Major Gilliam; and David Lake, Past State President.
On Sept. 24, Fort Myers Elks Lodge #1288 donated its $4,000 Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to the Community Cooperative in Fort Myers, Florida. The mission of Community Cooperative is to eliminate hunger and homelessness in Lee County while simultaneously inspiring and supporting sustained positive change in its clients by delivering innovative food, education and social service programs. Pictured are Alan Anderson, Loyal Knight; David Lake, Past State President; Stefani Ink-Edwards of the Community Cooperative; and Roger Spencer, Exalted Ruler.
Using a $2,000 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant, Rotonda Elks Lodge #2710 is purchasing $500 worth of food a month in July, August, September and October for the food bank of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church’s Outreach Program in Grove City, Florida. Matt Egan, director of the St. Francis Outreach Program, gives them a list of needed foods. July shoppers were Cheryl Culpan, Jeanne Karellas and Debbie Sommers, Lodge Secretary. August shoppers included Vickie Annabelle-Nine, assistant secretary; Francie Brown and her sister, Betty; and Debbie Sommers. Pictured are September shoppers, Debbie Sommers and Vickie Annabelle-Nine.
Rotonda Lodge will use $2,000 from its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant ($1,000 from Elks National Foundation and $1,000 from a matching grant from the Florida State Elks Association) to buy $500 worth of food and personal hygiene items a month for September, October, November and December for the Englewood Helping Hand food pantry in Englewood, Florida. Volunteers in September were Jean Humphreys, PER; Vickie Annabelle-Nine and Debbie Sommers.
Using $1,305.31 of its $2,000 Gratitude Grant, Punta Gorda Elks Lodge #2606 donated food to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank in Punta Gorda, Florida, and the Jesus Loves You Ministry in Port Charlotte, Florida, a mobile outreach program for those experiencing homelessness. A large microwave was also delivered to the Jesus Loves You Ministry using $230 from the Gratitude Grant. In addition, the lodge donated $1,500 from its $3,500 Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to St. Vincent de Paul for a new freezer. Food deliveries were made Aug. 31 and the microwave was delivered Sept. 3.
Pictured delivering food to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank are Judy Nuetzel, South Southwest District Vice President, and Fred Nuetzel, Exalted Ruler. Also pictured are two food bank volunteers whose names were unavailable. Fred Nuetzel is also pictured delivering food with a volunteer from Jesus Loves You Ministry and presenting a check for the freezer to a volunteer from St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank. Ambrose Yelovich, PER pictured with volunteer James Hicks delivers a large microwave to the Jesus Loves You Ministry.
On Sept. 15, Sean Kirsten of High Heat Travel Baseball was presented a $1,000 check from Englewood Lodge to sponsor a traveling Florida High Heat Baseball team. Florida High Heat Baseball is a travel baseball organization based in Englewood, Florida, for boys ages 16 and under. The league’s goal is to be the most affordable travel baseball in southwest Florida. Pictured are Carolyn Sutherland, Exalted Ruler, and Kirsten.
Englewood Elks Lodge #2378 donated its $2,000 Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to Englewood Helping Hand (EHH). This donation is to help EHH cover some of the food costs related to the increased volume of food-insecure residents of Charlotte and Sarasota counties in Florida due to the pandemic. Comprehensive data shows that at least 70,700 people in these counties are food-insecure. EHH also provides utility assistance to residences of the Englewood, Florida, community. Pictured at the check presentation are Mark Rennie, board president; Carolyn Sutherland, Exalted Ruler; and Judy Abbott, Secretary and Elks National Foundation Fundraising Lodge Chair.
Getting off to a quick start in the new lodge year, Bonita Springs-Estero Lodge applied for an Elks National Foundation (ENF) Gratitude Grant April 1, the day the ENF opened applications. The Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida received the donation of $2,000 that was approved within hours of the grant application. This was a new offering by the ENF to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The highly successful food bank was able to provide $8 of food for every $1 donated by partnering with local food stores for surpluses.
Our Mother’s Home was the recipient of Bonita Springs-Estero Lodge’s Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant of $2,000. This organization is a shelter located in Estero, Florida, for girls ages 12 to 19 who are pregnant through abuse, rape or trafficking. The lodge held a community shower luncheon Feb. 17 to coincide with a school holiday so the young ladies could attend with lodge members and friends who brought baby supplies and toys. Grant funds were used to purchase larger items, carriers, bedding and other supplies. In addition, a literacy program conducted by the education director from Estero’s public library was included in the event.
In the past fiscal Elks year, New Horizons of Southwest Florida has been the recipient of Elks National Foundation Beacon and Gratitude grants from Bonita Springs-Estero Elks Lodge #2753 totaling $4,500. It is an independent faith-based organization in Lee and Collier counties in Florida dedicated to improving education of children in grades K-12 who are at risk and below the poverty level by providing after-school volunteers who serve as tutors, mentors and aids at local churches. Funds from these two grants have been used to purchase computers, provide internet access at local sites so the kids can complete their homework, and purchase materials for a literacy reading summer camp. Lodge members are among the dedicated volunteers for the program that starts in June with reading camp and continued through mid-March when it went online due to the pandemic. Pictured Nov. 21, 2019, is Mr. Omar helping students at a computer lab.