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Florida Elks News Online

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District Reporter: Courtney Weil, PER

Tampa Lodge Christmas Party Attendees Give Back with Cards

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A children's Christmas party took place Dec. 22 at Tampa Lodge. There was pizza, cookie-decorating, entertainment by Miz Daisy and lots of presents donated by very generous south Tampa residents at their local Walgreens. The children also made cards for the Paradise Elks Lodge that was recently destroyed by the California fires.


Tampa Lodge's Club Chivalry Spends Day at Florida Elks Youth Camp

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On Dec. 6, Tampa Lodge’s Club Chivalry took their annual teambuilding field trip to the Florida Elks Youth Camp. The students were offered pastries and breakfast beverages to enjoy as they left Tampa. When they arrived at the camp, the students were each given a long-sleeve T-shirt as their Christmas present. After a game of kickball and lunch, they went to the ropes course. The camp provided activity directors for the afternoon, and they started the teambuilding with low exercises. Eventually the students added helmets to their gear and took to the air. They did the high swing, climbed a challenging tower and catapulted down, and climbed the rock wall. The group left the camp around 5 p.m., had dinner on the way home and sang Christmas carols on the bus.


Tampa Elks and Friends Serve Christmas Dinner at Open Arms Ministry

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On Dec. 23, Tampa Elks continued their use of their Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to provide a Christmas brunch for about 170 homeless men and women at the Open Arms Ministry at Hyde Park United Methodist Church. In addition to the brunch, clients were offered free haircuts and there were intake counselors from the VA and from Metropolitan Ministries on hand. Their partners at Open Arms had the room decorated beautifully with poinsettias. There was also a table full of homemade gifts like scarves, mittens and beanie caps to distribute to the homeless. The Elks had purchased the food in a marathon shopping spree a week earlier but were unable to set up a prep date due to schedule conflicts, so the Tampa Elks team of PER Courtney Weil and Elk family members Adrian Higgins and Douglas Grant arrived very early to prep and cook and had the meal ready by 8 a.m. There were more than 15 offerings on the table and clients could come back for seconds or a carry-out after everybody had been served. The Elks had plenty of staffing including Legacy scholarship recipients Evan and Andrew Wyatt as well as several parent/child teams who had been to the children’s Christmas party the day before.


St. Petersburg Lodge Provides Christmas Dinners to 300 Families

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On Dec. 21, St. Petersburg Lodge’s team of volunteers spearheaded by Christmas food drive chairman, Rudy Masi Sr., PDD, put together 300 Christmas dinner boxes which contained a complete Christmas dinner for a family of four to six people. Also included in each box was a $20 gift card from Publix for a ham or turkey. The lodge used the $2,500 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant, the $2,000 Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant and the $1,500 Elks National Foundation Anniversary Grant to purchase the food. Members donated an additional $630-worth of food. With the cost of the gift cards, a total donation of $8,203.74 was made to the 300 families in their community. The volunteers delivered some of the boxes to families in need whose names had been submitted to the lodge and to Heaven on Earth for Veterans whose mission is to alleviate Pinellas County veteran homelessness by providing quality, low-cost, safe living spaces. The remaining boxes went to 38th Avenue Baptist Church to be delivered through their indigent family care list.


New Port Richey Lodge Participates in Holiday Parade

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New Port Richey Elks Lodge #2284 participated in the 35th holiday street parade Dec. 8 in downtown New Port Richey. They distributed over 2,000 strands of beads, 500 drug awareness ribbons and 300 drug awareness coloring books. This event was organized in the lodge by John Connors and Inner Guard, Gloria Tyler. Officers and members participated and were joined by the lodge’s young marines and their Elks Riders. Tom Mortka walked in his first parade as Elroy the Elk.


Tampa Elks Continue to Help Feed Community Members who are Homeless

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Tampa Lodge continues to support the Open Arms Ministry in feeding members of the community who are homeless. This program feeds brunch every Sunday to homeless veterans, families and individuals. The clothing closet is open every first Sunday of the month as well. Pictured are lodge members Douglas Grant and Patty Volpe.


Tampa Elks Support Club Chivalry's Career Day

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Tampa Lodge members were chaperones for Career Day at Robinson High School. Club Chivalry for Success members attended their on-campus field trip for a full day of career exploration. Lunch was prepared and purchased from the school’s culinary department. Pictured is a representative from Erwin Technical College’s electricity department.


Tampa Lodge's Club Chivalry Hosts Guest Speaker

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At Club Chivalry for Successful Students’ November meeting, the guest Speaker was U.S. Navy CW5 Ron Carpenter. He described his climb out of the south side of Chicago to become a top officer in the Navy. Tampa Elks Lodge #708 sponsors this student group.


Children in Foster Care Receive Christmas Gifts from Largo Lodge

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Again this year, Largo Lodge’s Christmas angel tree was a huge success. Members took one of the tags from the tree with an area child’s name who is in foster care. Their age, hobbies and wish gift request were included on the tag. Members provided a gift for their sponsored child, and the presents were distributed to the children before Christmas.


Largo Lodge Bartenders Hold Charity Auction

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Largo Elks Lodge’s bartenders held their second annual blind auction Nov. 10. The bartenders took a portion of their tips to buy fun gifts. In two and a half hours, over 170 items were auctioned off, raising $1,850 which was used to purchase Christmas gifts for underprivileged children. Pictured is Marcia Lowe, bar manager.


St. Petersburg Elks Host Children's Christmas Party and Donate Gifts to CASA

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Thanks to the Elks National Foundation Promise Grant of $2,500 and deep discounts from Walgreens, St. Petersburg Lodge volunteers went Christmas shopping for toys for kids ages newborn to 10. On Dec. 1, the lodge hosted their annual community kids’ Christmas party. Christmas music was provided by elf Johnny Miller. There were stations for games, Christmas ornament craft decoration, cookie decorating and balloon making. A free lunch and dessert were served to 86 kids and 141 parents, grandparents and elves present. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived when they heard the sound of sleigh bells being rung by the excited boys and girls. Santa spent time with each child and gave each child an especially selected toy.

The lodge was also able to provide toys to make Christmas a much brighter one for 60 children sheltered at CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse). CASA provides safety, empowerment and prevention programs to help domestic violence survivors and stop the generational cycle of violence.


St. Petersburg Lodge Donates to Suncoast Safe Kids

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On Dec. 2, St. Petersburg Lodge presented a check for $500 to Suncoast Safe Kids. The Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition was established in 1991 and is led by Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., and serves five counties in the Tampa Bay area. It is an affiliate of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global organization dedicated to preventing injuries in children, the No. 1 killer of kids in the United States. The coalition unites health and safety experts, first responders, educators, local agencies, civic groups, businesses, and volunteers from each community served. Each county elects officers who meet monthly with the Safe Kids membership to review childhood injury data and to develop strategies to combat specific childhood injuries.

Pictured are Charlene Cobb, chairperson of Pinellas Coalition; Martin Sharp, Lecturing Knight; and Petra Vybiralova Stanton, Johns Hopkins/All Children's supervisor to Pinellas Coalition.


Louisiana State Legislature Increases New Orleans Hotel Occupancy Tax

The Legislature of the State of Louisiana has acted to increase the New Orleans Hotel Occupancy Tax from 13% to 14.75% effective April 1, 2014. This will affect our convention room rates and they will go from $128.56 to $130.52 per night.

Convention Attendees With ADA Transportation Needs Urged To Contact Grand Lodge

In order for the Grand Lodge to support the transportation needs of attendees with disabilities you are urged to contact the Grand Lodge if you require special assistance. Special coaches capable of kneeling to accommodate wheel chairs will be placed along the routes for those in need. If you require assistance please contact Tina or Jessica at the Grand Lodge as follows:


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