As of June 19, St. Petersburg Lodge member and Americanism Chair, Katherine "Kat" Chaplin, has made and given away 900-plus face masks for free to friends and fellow Elks. The masks are located in a bin in the lodge lobby and are also available for pickup at her residence. Recipients come from some of the lodge’s 1,500 members who also have spouses, kids and family. Chaplin lives in a mobile home park and gives them out there and has left word at their clubhouse. The lodge also posts the information on Facebook to contact the lodge or Chaplin for a mask and it is also posted in the lodge bulletin. Each mask takes 15 minutes to make; that’s more than 225 hours of Chaplin’s time. She donated all the material and labor to contribute to the St. Petersburg, Florida, community during these trying times. The masks are made of 100% cotton and are to be worn to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Pictured April 17 are Delaney Hall, Kat Chaplin and Geneva Hall, Delaney’s mother and a lodge member. Not only did they receive free masks from Chaplin but they were also picking up masks for volunteers who were working on Wednesdays for the Pinellas County school system making sure kids from low-income familes had meals during the weekends.
On April 14, St. Petersburg Lodge donated $2,000 to The Kind Mouse which will cover the cost of 330 mouse nibble sacks for kids who do not have food sources outside of their school lunch program. The sacks include milk, juice boxes, cereal, tuna snack packs, pasta and meat snack packs, fruit cups, and much more. The lodge used their $2,000 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to applied for by PER Dawn Lieber, lodge grant writer, to make this donation.
The Kind Mouse Productions Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in St. Petersburg, Florida, that assists families and children in Pinellas County with food insecurities and chronic hunger. According to their website, thekindmouse.org, “more than 7,000 children in Pinellas County live with chronic hunger and more than 36,000 live every day with food insecurities.” With schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, food demand at the Kind Mouse is at its peak. Before the pandemic, children in their program received one bag each weekend of the year with an additional three to five bags for Thanksgiving, spring break and the Christmas vacation. Now, these children and additional children need fed seven days a week.
Pictured are Dan Masi, Leading Knight and the Florida State Elks Association Development Director, and Gina Wilkins, Founder and CEO of The Kind Mouse.
On April 3, St. Petersburg Elks Lodge #1224 donated Easter basket supplies to Sallie House and Children's Village which are part of the Salvation Army. Items included candy, yo-yos, trucks, balls, bubbles, earbuds, cellphone holders and more. The items were delivered so baskets could be put together for the 36 children and teenagers housed at these facilities. Pictured are Michael “Doc” Cook, Exalted Ruler; Nicole Brown from Sallie House; and Kirk Martin, Inner Guard.
On March 11, the St. Petersburg Ladies of Elks Auxiliary made a $1,000 donation to the Southeastern Guide Dogs walkathon and the lodge added an additional $250. The walkathon is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year and is relied upon to bring in more than $1 million annually to fund their mission. The organization does not accept government funding and depends on private donations and grants to provide its life-changing guide and service dogs to the people who need them at no charge. Pictured are Jan Giallourakis, St. Petersburg Ladies of Elks Auxiliary Vice President, and Tracy Horrell, PER, a member of Tampa Elks Lodge who is representing Southeastern Guide Dogs. She raises puppies and Sandy, pictured with Horrell, is under her charge right now being trained. She teaches puppies the basics including house manners and basic obedience, and they then go on for further training.
On Feb. 28, St. Petersburg Lodge donated $1,500 to Northwest Youth Baseball (NWYB) in St. Petersburg, Florida, to sponsor youth baseball teams. NWYB does not receive any funding from the city and relies strictly on donations they receive from their sponsors. The donations allow NWYB to operate their park, make necessary purchases such as new equipment and uniforms, and finance other park expenses including field maintenance and field lights. In addition, because of sponsors’ generosity, NWYB can maintain affordable registration costs.
On March 7-8, St. Petersburg Lodge sponsored member Chris Boland in Bike MS: The Citrus Tour 2020 with a donation of $1,000. Bike MS is the fundraising cycling series of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and raises more money than any other cycling event for any other cause. Their mission is to end MS. Routes included 23, 50, 75 and 100 miles.
On Feb. 29, St. Petersburg Lodge donated $700 to the Dixie Hollins baseball team to thank the team members for assisting during a lodge event. The money will be used for baseball equipment and help with travel expenses. Pictured are head coach, Ralph Rogers; assistant coach, Dave Neverline; and team members.
New Port Richey Lodge Exalted Ruler, Dave Marcinkowski, throws the first pitch at a West Pasco Little League game Feb. 22, 2020. The lodge sponsors the West Pasco Mets Juniors.
On Feb. 1, St. Petersburg Elks Lodge #1224 recognized 14 first responders at their annual law and order awards event. Three additional responders who could not be present were recognized Feb. 29. In attendance at the first event were 151 officers with their families and 71 Elks and guests. The lodge provided a free dinner to the first responders and their families. The awards recognize the outstanding contributions of top law enforcement, firefighting, and emergency medical personnel. Honorees are nominated by their peers and represent departments throughout Pinellas County. “We remain indebted to the men and women first responders who work every day to keep the people of our community safe,” stated Toni Goodrich, PDD, Lodge Secretary. After the ceremony, the lodge presented Pinellas Park High School JRROTC a check for $1,000 in support of the school’s four-year high school magnet program with emphasis on law education to Cassandra C. Bogatz, program director for the Criminal Justice Academy. The JRROTC served the dinner to all 222 in attendance. After the check presentation, the St. Petersburg Police K-9 unit presented a demonstration by Officer Dixon & Officer Herring with K-9s Johnny and Blaze. Officers selected to become K-9 handlers must complete a 16-week school with their K-9 partners. K-9 activities include building, article and tracking searches. Demonstrations included obedience exercises, mock drug searches, simulated criminal apprehension and an agility test. Pictured are Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sgt. Rich Trump who presented awards to Deputy Bryan Beeler, Deputy Colin Roper, Deputy Jayson Young and Deputy Rita Bison (not pictured).
At the request of Wheelchairs 4 Kids, the lodges of the West Central District donated $2,200 to purchase an adaptive tricycle for 5-year-old Marli who has cerebral palsy. Wheelchairs 4 Kids is a nonprofit organization that assists children with physical disabilities by supplying wheelchairs, modifying vehicles, and providing other assistive and therapeutic devices. Erin Wilson, Programs Coordinator for Wheelchairs 4 Kids, describes Marli. She “endures numerous obstacles as a result of the illness. She is nonverbal. Marli uses a G-tube for nourishment. She also cannot walk. The little girl, however, is happy despite her limitations. Many things make Marli smile. Every day she learns something new by watching ‘Sesame Street.’ Her favorite movies include ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Wildcrats.’ Marli also listens to children’s music, but her favorite artist is the reggae superstar Bob Marley. On special occasions, she and her family visit Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Her must-go-on ride is the Carousel of Progress. Most of all, Marli loves playing with her brother. They can be silly and goofy, and at day’s end, a bit of silliness is Marli’s best medicine.” Pictured are Chris Miles, Tampa Lodge Exalted Ruler; Toni Goodrich, PDD of St. Petersburg Lodge; Bonnie McManus and Rhonda Smith from Holiday Isles Lodge; Dave Marcinkowski from New Port Richey Lodge; physical therapist Nick Hamilton from Charlie’s Champs (the other partner in the purchase); Erin Wilson from Wheelchairs 4 Kids; Raquel Scott, Marli’s mother, holding Marli; Mozes Scott, Marli’s brother, sitting on the tricycle; and Garrett Scott, Marli’s father.
On Jan. 30, Largo Elks Lodge members shopped for nonperishable food items to be delivered to Pinellas Safe Harbor, a homeless shelter in Largo run by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Using the Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant, they used $1,000 to purchase food at Sam’s Club. The lodge also holds clothing drives and couples the clothing donations with clothing purchased with the remaining $1,000 from the grant. The facility has at least 425 people, primarily men, pass through their doors every day. Members Jeanne Reinhart, PDD; Alice Wallace and Barbara Hennessey are pictured after purchasing the food. Pictured at the delivery are members Ed Cabana and Alice Wallace; Sergeant Debra Knighton; Jeanne Reinhart, PDD; and CJS Nunez.
On Dec. 2, St. Peterburg Elks Lodge #1224 donated $250 to the Pinellas Academy of Math and Science, a charter-public school in Clearwater, Florida, in Pinellas County. The school serves 611 students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade. The mission of the school is to provide students with a well-rounded elementary and middle-school education through a challenging program focused on mathematics and science using innovative, reform-based, instructional methods in a stimulating and nurturing environment that fosters maximum student achievement. The donation will be used to purchase school supplies.