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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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Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Elks Lodge members Rick Thorson, PER; Kay Thorson; Joanne DiCarlo; and Mary Uris delivered 1,008 cookies Nov. 24 to first responders including the county sheriff and the State Highway Patrol office in the lodge’s jurisdiction. The trays included a message from the lodge thanking them for their service. This is an annual event.


On Aug. 15, South Hillsborough Elks Lodge #2672 presented Meet Me in the Street Ministry with 14 boxes and sacks of food. This organization located in Ruskin, Florida, feeds children and families in need on Wednesdays and sends packs of food home with them on weekends. Members, guests and friends of the Elks donated items such as individual applesauce and fruit cups, single-serve ravioli, macaroni and cheese and canned spaghetti, granola and snack bars, and so much more. The lodge will continue to collect donations for this project.


2855 dog

On Sept. 22, Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Elks Lodge #2855 donated $5,000 to Southeastern Guide Dogs and was matched by the Canine Care Council. Southeastern Guide Dogs provides guide and service dogs to people with vision loss, veterans with disabilities and children with significant challenges. These premier dogs and lifetime services are provided at no cost to the recipient. Pictured are lodge members Barbara Christopher, Mary Bilkie, and Tom Sweeney; Sean Brown of Southeastern Guide Dogs; and lodge member Pat Morocco.


1854 lori

Venice-Nokomis Elks Lodge #1854 used $826 from its Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to purchase needed supplies for children in three local schools who are underprivileged — Laurel Nokomis, Island Village Montessori and Venice Elementary School. Supplies such as headphones, compositions books, notebook binders, folders, glue sticks, markers and colored pencils were donated and delivered. Pictured Sept. 2 is Lori Christie, guidance counselor at Venice Elementary School.


2672 gibsonton

On Sept. 2, South Hillsborough Lodge donated shoes for kids in need, (especially tennis shoes and closed-toe shoes, to Gibsonton Elementary School. This project will continue for several months because the local need is tremendous. The Elks also donated two big boxes of school supplies to the school. While the lodge’s supply of goods is small, when combined with others, it will help many kids.

Pictured delivering to the school is Jan McCleery, PER, Esquire.


1511 horse

On Sept. 24, Bradenton Elks Lodge #1511 donated $3,500 to Hooves with H.E.A.R.T. (Horse Education and Riding Therapy), an animal therapy organization in Bradenton, Florida. They maintain six to eight horses and donkeys of various sizes and ages on approximately 10 acres. Animal therapy has been very popular recently. Hooves with H.E.A.R.T. invites children with conditions or disorders such as Down syndrome and autism to partner with the animals for rides and other training including walking, leading, cleaning and proper care of the animals. The donation was made from the Florida State Elks Association’s matching funds for the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. Pictured at the donation presentation are Danielle Curtis, executive director; Darrin Simone, Southwest District Vice President; Dan Tabor, Past State President and District Leader; Bob Erwin, PDD, Exalted Ruler; Mason Cramer, therapy recipient; and Willow.



On May 24, South Hillsborough Elks Lodge members presented Pastor Sam Rorer of the United Methodist Church a check for $2,500 from their Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant. The money will be used exclusively to provide healthy, nutritious meals for children in the immediate area who are underprivileged. The church feeds 25-35 children every Monday evening. Pictured are Grace Bibisi, lodge trustee; Joyce Dominick-Schaefer, lodge grant coordinator; Pastor Rorer; and Steve Conrad, Exalted Ruler.


In the past, Manasota Elks Lodge #2734 has had Breakfast with Santa for community families in need. Unfortunately, this was not possible this past year due to the pandemic. Disappointed, lodge members brainstormed and talked to the two schools they partner with and came up with a solution. The lodge used Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant funds to fill a box with toiletries, candy, toys, $15 McDonald’s gift certificates for each child, Christmas dinner items and a $25 Winn-Dixie gift certificate to purchase a turkey for distribution to 26 families in need at Abel Elementary School and Oneco Elementary School. Lodge members Diane Davis, Spike Klocke, Linda Schultz, Pauline Snyder and Shawn Wheaton sorted, wrapped and packed the items for delivery to each Title 1 school. School staff members distributed the boxes the last day of school before the winter break. The lodge received posters and letters thanking them for the generous gifts.

Abel Xmas dropoff

Pictured Dec. 17 at Abel Elementary School are Denise Troche, staff member; Diane Davis, Leading Knight; Don Wheaton, trustee; Jan "Spike" Klocke, lodge member; Jim Klocke, trustee; Shawn Wheaton, lodge member; and Mary Lauderdale, staff member.

Oneco Xmas Dropoff

Pictured Dec. 18 at Oneco Elementary school are Eileen Popecki, staff member; Davida Phillips, staff member; Jan "Spike" Klocke, lodge member; Jim Klocke, trustee; Don Wheaton, trustee; Marie Mueller, staff member, lodge member, and N.U.B.S. Community Service co-advisor; Shawn Wheaton, lodge member; and Diane Davis, Leading Knight.


1511 MCS

On Nov. 14, Bradenton Elks Lodge #1511 donated $7,000 to Manatee County Children's Services, a Manatee County, Florida, charity that maintains three group homes, a homeless shelter, and many other abuse, prevention, workshops, counseling and advocacy programs. The funds were made possible through a $3,500 Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant and a matching Florida State Elks Association grant. Pictured are Dave Manning, PDD; ER, Bradenton 1511 and Marcie Lacy, Residential Director, Manatee County Children's Services


On Nov. 25, Joanne DiCarlo and Rick and Kay Thorson, representing Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Elks Lodge #2855, distributed 924 cookies to first responders in the East Manatee County Fire District with a note on top that read, "We are Thankful for You." The cookies were greatly appreciated by the various teams. This is something the lodge has done for the last six years.


2734 school

Manasota Elks Lodge #2734 has proudly formed a partnership with Florine J. Abel Elementary School, a Title 1 school in Sarasota, Florida, which means the school has a large segment of students who come from families with low incomes. The school reached out to the lodge for help, and the members responded quickly to their first collaborative project donating school supplies. Because the donation box in the lodge filled quickly, members delivered the supplies to the school July 30. Pictured in the front row are Samantha Webb, principal, and Mary Lauderdale, fourth grade teacher. Lodge members in the back row are Diane Davis, Ken Davis, Robin Hutchins, Pam McDowell and Dale Steinke.


2495 books toys

During the coronavirus pandemic, Sarasota South Elks Lodge #2495 has been carrying out a unique program to serve students’ needs while they learn from home. In April, 1,900 educational toys were donated to help encourage children in prekindergarten through eighth grade with their distance learning and as an incentive to complete their assignments online. In June, 2,500 books were donated for the students as well. Teachers from three schools in Sarasota, Venice and Bradenton came to the Elks’ storeroom near the lodge to pick up the toys and books. They take them to their schools to hand out to the students as they pick up their lunches. The teachers handle this because they know which children are in need and their reading levels. To date, approximately 2,900 toys and 3,500 books have been donated, and each student receives a book and a toy. This project was supported by lodge members and members of the community as well as by businesses, Toys for Tots, a book company and Venice-Nokomis Elks Lodge. Because of the lodge’s visibility and community support, they have even gained new members. Pictured June 10 at the lodge storeroom are Jim Lamb, PDD, Sarasota South Lodge member and coordinator of Toys for Tots, and Marie Mueller of Oneco Elementary School.