After reading an article in the Highlands Today about the Avon Park High School's Changing the World One Student at a Time program, the Sebring Elks Lodge Board of Directors was very impressed. The two teachers who are working together to focus on social emotional learning (SEL) and positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) are Allison Rapp and Bo Jackson. Rapp, who is also a lodge member, was invited to do a presentation about the program to the board. She explained that mental health and positive social behavior are as important as academic learning. Students are rewarded for positive actions and when they go above and beyond in making the world a better place. They are rewarded with RED bucks (Respectful, Engaged & Disciplined) and can be redeemed for snacks or recreational time in the Red Zone recreational room. Pictured at the lodge Nov. 15 are Allison Rapp and Wainetta Holmes, Exalted Ruler, who presented a $500 check to Rapp to help with the program.
On Oct. 8, Lakeland Lodge went totally pink for their annual cancer fundraiser, from their street sign lit with pink lights to everything inside. The 2019 event raised a record amount of more than $12,000 for Hollis Cancer Center and they never thought they could surpass that. The pandemic didn’t allow for an event in 2020 but they still raised more than $3,000. Then came 2021 with a new record of more than $20,000.00. Many new members joined the event team this year, which is a yearlong process led by Sher Thrush. Also helping were Shannon Benzel and Penny Deig, who handled the raffle of more than 40 baskets. Cindy Ayers took on the silent auction, overseeing an enormous list of donated items donated. With so many great items, including an antique Elks ring, an autographed baseball jersey, and a plane trip and picnic, Arcadia Lodge member Ricky Mercer agreed to auctioneer a live auction. Cindy Green headed the tub of cheer. Centerpieces and decorating were done and donated by Jan and Britt Watson and Jan’s mother. Bob Max and his team provided a prime rib dinner. AnnMarie Wendel made and donated all the desserts, which were all pink. Each year emotions run high as survivors stand and are celebrated and those currently fighting this disease are supported. Those who have lost the fight are remembered; as Elks say, “never forgotten, never forsaken.” Always a highlight is the Brotherhood of Pinkness fashion show, Puttin’ on the Pink. Pictured are the shows volunteers: Carl Hutchcraft, Alex Miller, Bob Fuschetti, Jeff Morse, Gerry Deig, Ricky Mercer, Joey Santos, Jamie Cook, Rick Littlejohn, Dave Waller and Ricky Ayers.
Also pictured are those at the check presentation — Tim Dench, Hollis Cancer Center; John Mathison, Exalted Ruler; Stephanie Butler, LPN; Thiera Hargrove, RN; Sher Thrush, lodge member and event organizer; and Jodi Ridley, director of Lakeland Regional Health Care Foundation.
Lakeland Lodge is an ongoing supporter of the annual Brotherhood Ride. This year's ride was extra special, as it was a ride from Florida to New York City for the 9/11 20th anniversary memorial events. The lodge hosted the riders overnight Aug. 22, cooked them dinner and breakfast, and supplied showering facilities. They also held a fundraiser that raised more than $4,200 for the riders and families of fallen first responders.
The members of Lake Placid Elks Lodge #2661 held a successful school supply drive, and on Aug. 9, Amy Bovair, Leading Knight, right, delivered the school supplies to the Lake Country Elementary School. Pictured with her is an office staff member whose name was unavailable.
Sebring Elks are proud sponsors of the Sebring Youth Baseball AAA team and the Ozone All-Star teams. Both teams are heading to Laurel, Mississippi, as the Florida Dixie Youth Baseball state tournament champions in their divisions. On July 31 at the lodge, member Nick Tidwell presented each team with a $250 check. Coach Brian Simmons and Gabe Ford accepted for the AAA league and Carter Gose and his mother, Christi, accepted for the Ozone league.
On July 3, Sebring Elks Lodge #1529 participated in a dedication of a refrigerator to the Hands for Homeless organization in Avon Park, Florida. This nonprofit organization started the community fridge program to meet the needs on a 24-7 basis of those who are homeless and food deprived in Highlands County. The lodge used funds from its Elks National Foundation Gratitude and Spotlight grants, totaling $4,000, to purchase the refrigerator and other supplies for those in need. Local chef Jacob Lyons provides takeout meals daily which are kept in the refrigerator. Dairy products and other items that need to be kept cool are also stocked in it. It is cleaned once a day and restocked three times a day. A dry goods pantry storage is available as well, and a pallet of food is kept nearby that varies daily and does not require refrigeration. Hands for Homeless runs the program and purchased a building in Avon Park and the refrigerator and pantry are located in the parking lot under a covered and well-lit area. Some lodge members continue to help restock supplies and also deliver meals to those who are shut in. Approximately 20 members attended the dedication. During the event, lodge members Rob Lipscomb and Stacy Hill and their daughter, Jayce, stock the pantry and Carlie Stockenberg, daughter of member Joe, stocks the refrigerator and photographs the event.
Lakeland Elks Lodge #1291 donated its $2,500 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to the Florida Baptist Children’s Home One More Child program. This is a community-based, nonprofit organization serving local communities, and the program provides meals through a backpack program in local schools. The lodge donation will provide meals to vulnerable children and their families who have struggled with difficulties throughout this pandemic. Pictured June 30 are lodge members Sher Thrush and Jim Mosier along with Leon Battle, Rebecca Rothman, Megan Matta and Kaf Nelson from Florida Baptist Children’s Home.