On April 26, Tampa Lodge Veterans Chair, José Rémon, presented the Elk medal, bar and certificate to Cadet Jaydaliz Cruz from Robinson High School JROTC. Cadet Cruz was selected for this award because of her proven leadership in academics, community service projects and maintaining the highest standards in all fields of endeavor.
During March and April, New Port Richey Elks Lodge #2284 collected numerous pieces of formal wear, shoes, jewelry and accessories and donated them to the Cinderella and Prince Charming Project. High school students who would not be able to afford to attend their prom because of the cost of the attire were invited to shop for their outfits at a local facility free of charge.
On April 13, Tampa Elks Lodge treated the Club Chivalry graduating seniors to a special luncheon at Fred’s Country Buffet. There were 21 students and three Elks in attendance. Before leaving, the Elks presented honor cords, which are worn during graduation, to the club officers, and Ms. Hand presented honor cords to the students who had been in her Avid class for four years.
The group is pictured in front of the restaurant.
Holiday Isles Lodge donated the use of its banquet room to the Santa’s Angels organization to host its annual volunteer awards ceremony. The lodge does this every year for them. The lodge received a sponsorship award for their yearly donation.
Pictured are lodge members Rich DeBlasio, Mike Brown, Paula DeBlasio and Sandra Gann.
On March 7, Holiday Isles Lodge donated $1,000 from its charity account for a golf tournament sponsorship held by the Military Order of the World Wars and the Military Officers Association of America to benefit the Pinellas County Schools’ JROTC units.
Pictured are Noreen Hodges; LTC Steve Hodges, retired, MOWW and MOAA member and tournament chair; Paula DeBlasio and Bob Behm, lodge members; and LTC David Mason, MOWW.
On Feb. 23, Holiday Isles Elks Lodge #1912 presented a $5,520 donation to the Seminole High School Color Guard (SHSCG). These students have been servers for lodge events since they were in middle school. The lodge learned of a shortage in their annual donations and donated $5,000 from the charity account. The rest was donated by lodge members.
Pictured during a practice session for a state competition are color guard members Sophia Ridge, Gracie Evans, Lauren Basara, Arianna Rosado, Aubrey Murray, Selene Levith, Savannah Smith, Ava Engelberger, Hailey Westfall, Ella Picion, Maddie Vinci, Christina Hills, Tanner Diederich, Arianna Sterling and Courtney Kirouac. Also pictured are Paul Smith, incoming Exalted Ruler; Rhonda Smith, PER, District Vice President-elect; and members Regan Zink and Kristin Baker.
On March 2, Tampa Lodge donated a Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus to each third grade student at Holy Trinity Lutheran School in Tampa, Florida. The dictionaries were purchased during the pandemic and could not be distributed when planned. The students were surprised to be allowed to put their name in the book and were excited to read the definitions, synonyms and antonyms. Lodge trustee Loyd Moore handed out the dictionaries while Rita Smith, Exalted Ruler, had the students look up three words.
Pictured are the students with Taylor Meyer, third grade teacher; Loyd Moore, lodge trustee; and Kelly Reilly, principal.
Students of Club Chivalry, a high school group sponsored by Tampa Lodge, took a field trip to the Florida Elks Youth Camp (FEYC) Feb. 16. Joining the 29 students were Elks Mike Volpe; Robert Maloney Jr.; Melissa Bertoch; Caroline Hand, teacher and club sponsor; and Rita Smith, Exalted Ruler. Before the bus ride, each student was given a Drug Awareness bag filled with a red ribbon and snacks. After about two hours, they arrived at the camp and went to the ropes course shelter, where they were met by three FEYC staff facilitators. After instructions, the students were taken in one group to start working on low element teamwork. They were passing a large loop rope with the directions and instructions changing every few minutes. Then, they were divided into three groups, where they had to either run through a moving jump rope, balance on a long pivot platform, or reverse a tarp, all as a team of about 10. Each time one failed, they all had to start over, so team strategy was on full display. After 20 minutes or so, they were divided into two teams that had to compete in a hilarious game involving jumping through hula hoops and playing Rock Paper Scissors with the goal of one whole team changing sides. At 12:30 they had lunch in the pavilion. Afterward, the students were again divided into two groups and outfitted in harnesses and helmets for the high elements. One group did an exercise in which they pulled a classmate into the air by using a pulley; then the classmate was released for a wild swinging ride through the sky. They were then slowly lowered until they could be caught by the instructors on the ground, brought to an upright position and lowered some more until their feet were on the ground. The other group was climbing a pole tower that was at least four stories high, using rock wall pieces as climbing steps. When they got as high as they dared go, they rappelled down. Most made it to the very top. This one took an incredible amount of upper body strength. After each student had completed their assigned teamwork, they switched activities so everybody who wanted to give it a try did both of the high elements. On the trip home, they had dinner from Subway.
On Jan. 22, St. Petersburg Lodge held its annual flag retirement ceremony, led by St. Petersburg Boy Scout Troop 209. Flags were provided by lodge members and nonmembers from the troop. The scouts demonstrated the proper way to retire an American flag and explained why they are retired this way. Lodge members and guests were invited to participate.
On Feb. 1, Tampa Elks Lodge #708 donated $1,000 from its Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to the Robles Elementary PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association) to improve the faculty lounge in an effort to improve morale. The school is on its third principal of the year.
Pictured at the check presentation are Camden Lynn, Leading Knight; Crystal Johnson, one-year trustee; Bonnie James, Robles PTSA president; and Dr. Christine Harris, new principal.
On the second Sunday every month, St. Petersburg Elks Lodge #1224 holds a Jukebox Mania music bingo event to benefit the Harry-Anna Trust Fund. The game is hosted by lodge member Martin Brinkley of Batman Media. The host has a screen set up to display 30-second music videos (with the name of the song and artist shown). Players’ bingo cards have song names instead of numbers and members sing along while daubing the songs on their bingo cards. On Jan. 8, the first game of 2023 was enjoyed by more than 80 players, who donate $5 to play three games, and $410 was raised. Prizes for each game are given as a $10 lodge gift card.
On Dec. 16, Tampa Elks Lodge #708 collected hundreds of toys from Walgreens collection boxes from the Walgreens-Elks Community Gift Drive. With the toys, they stocked a “store” during the lodge’s Christmas party for local children in need. Patty Volpe, Youth Activities Chair, maintains a database of families in need and had an impressive number of families, including some large foster families, respond with an RSVP. The children enjoyed a parade, played games and won prizes, had a photo visit with Santa, made pirate-themed crafts, and sang songs. They also enjoyed spaghetti, salad, applesauce and ice cream. Meanwhile, one adult from each family visited the staged store and “shopped” for presents for age-appropriate gifts for their children. Those presents were wrapped by volunteers for the Academy of the Holy Names Rowing Club, placed in a large black sack, and hustled out to the parking lot to be stowed in trunks. Each child received approximately five gifts. Some families even won a bike as part of a raffle. There were about 150 children and adults involved.
Pictured are Santa (George Hilficker, House Committee Chair) and Adonis.