On Dec. 20, Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Elks Lodge #2855 packed 10 boxes of food containing breakfast, lunch and dinner for Christmas Day for the clients of the Salvation Army program Pathway to Hope for single moms. On Dec. 22, the lodge held a Christmas party for 53 children and adults who are physically handicapped who participate in the Miracle League baseball program that is sponsored by the lodge.
Venice-Nokomis Elks Lodge #1854 has given much support to local children. They donated 20 bicycles to a local elementary school for a reading incentive program. The bicycles were presented by Dave Gillum, Exalted Ruler, and Sherie Gillum, Leading Knight. With the help of the Promise Grant, they donated $1,300-worth of food to the Sandra Terry Civic Center for the afterschool snack program that feeds 75 homeless children weekly. The lodge also used the Anniversary Grant to purchase and deliver 150 dictionaries to two local elementary schools, and school supplies were delivered to Laurel Nokomis Elementary School for needy children.
South Hillsborough Elks Lodge #2672 sponsored 22 young boys and girls to participate in the county’s summer day camp program held at E.G. Simmons Park. This year, with the Gratitude Grant and in cooperation with the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation Department, the lodge was able to support two camp periods: July 2-13 for children ages nine to 11 and July 16-27 for children ages 12-15. The camp teaches conservation, kayaking, fishing safety, fishing techniques, catch and release procedures, species identification, and arts and crafts. Two field trips were conducted including a visit to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa and the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center in nearby Apollo Beach. Local charter captains lectured on the fishes of Tampa Bay. At the conclusion of each camp period, awards were given to the camper who caught the biggest fish, the camper who caught the most fish and the camper who showed the most improvement in fishing capabilities. As part of the program, on the last day of camp, every camper receives a rod and reel, some lures, and other tackle and leaves the program with new friends and fond memories.
Manasota Elks Lodge #2734 participated in a flag retirement ceremony at Oneco Elementary School earlier this year. The ceremony was performed by Maritime Eagles Sea Cadets and included folding the flag and raising the new replacement flags: American, state POW/MIA. A portion of their Gratitude Grant was used for this purpose. All students and faculty members of Oneco Elementary School attended the event.
On Saturday, Sept. 15, 38 members of Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Lodge came by bus to the Florida Elks Youth Camp in Umatilla. They also escorted a busload of relief supplies for victims of Hurricane Florence to be distributed to Elks lodges in the affected areas.
Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Elks Lodge members dressed in bee colors and costumes read books about safety to first-graders in two local schools. The children were given a book and a plush bee to take home to remind them of the lessons they learned about stranger danger, good touches and bad touches, when not to keep a secret, and many other reminders to keep them safe. The books and bees were provided through a Gratitude Grant.