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District Reporter: Courtney Weil, PER

Kids Attend Back-to-School Party at Tampa Lodge

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On Aug. 5, Patty Volpe chaired another successful back-to-school party at Tampa Elks Lodge #708 along with many Elks volunteers. There were three planning meetings, a bag-stuffing evening, extensive shopping and several hours of setup and tear-down in addition to the two-hour party. The lodge received gifts from local businesses to be used as door prizes for parents, and members were also generous with donations and supplies. Part of the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Promise Grant was also utilized. More than 100 children attended the party and left with a full bag of supplies. They enjoyed eight activity stations and a visit with Elroy. The menu consisted of hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and pudding at lunch; they were also given an ice cream treat before they left. The 87 family members who accompanied the children were also treated to lunch. At one point during the party, the adults were ushered into the “no-kid zone” dining room to sign up for door prizes and to join the lodge registry. They were also invited to consider joining the Elks.

Addisen Hauka, Christen Grant and Jonathan Dallavilla posed with Elroy the Elk (PER Tom Morka) at Tampa Lodge’s back-to-school party.

 

FSEA donates books to Music Therapy Program

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The Florida State Elks Association (FSEA) donated books titled “Advance My Baby” to Music Sweet Music Inc. (MSM), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that specializes in music therapy for children and adults suffering from illnesses, diseases and disorders.

FSEA is helping MSM to provide these books free of charge to families in the economically challenged and underserved communities they serve. MSM currently serves three Tampa Bay children's hospitals and has its own music therapy studio. The books donated by FSEA have a retail value of $69.99 each. MSM’s board-certified music therapists' goals along with those of FSEA is to help parents, grandparents and caregivers identify the stages where their child should be and to help their child succeed despite their developmental delay(s).

Music Sweet Music Inc. public relations volunteer, May Graci, holds one of the donated books by the Florida Elks State Association in the MSM music therapy studio.

 

Back-to-School Pool Party Held at St. Petersburg Lodge

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St. Petersburg Lodge held their annual back-to-school pool party Sunday, Aug. 5, and was a positive start to the new school year. Many fun activities were held for the children in attendance. The families cheered as their children played games to earn school supplies. More than 145 guests attended including 65 children ranging from kindergarten to high school. All school supplies were donated by lodge members with an approximate value of $700. About $500-worth of the school supplies were given to the kids during their games and activities. The remaining supplies valued at $200 were donated to Walsingham Elementary to be given to their students since many students go to school without the tools they need. By giving the school supplies to Walsingham Elementary, the lodge hopes to help their local youth start their school year with a smile.

 

Twin Brothers Enjoy Week at FEYC Sponsored by St. Petersburg Lodge

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The Florida Elks Youth Camp is unique because of the magic feeling the kids share and the friendships that form. In this special place, kids can be themselves and are free to run, laugh, play, discover and make the best memories of a lifetime! Take twins Tanner and Tyler who were sponsored by St. Petersburg Lodge to attend this year's summer camp. This is not the boys’ first time at FEYC, but this time they were actually excited to go. The first time was scary being away from their parents and they were placed in different cabins. They went on hikes, made s’mores around the campfire, went swimming and canoeing, and so much more with the many other kids at camp, and they even made friends! They can’t wait to go back again next year, though it will be their last year since they'll be turning 13, the cutoff age for summer campers.

 

Eagle Scout Sponsored by Largo Lodge Completes Project

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Nick Verhunce earned the Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout award earlier this year. Nick is a member of Troop 417 with the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council and was sponsored by Largo Elks Lodge #2159. His Eagle Scout project honored the heritage of the 11 original families who settled in Seminole, Fla., and is located at the entrance of the Seminole Historical Society Museum. The scouts installed engraved pavers and built a monument pedestal including a plaque commemorating these families and their importance for generations to come. They completed the project area with a park bench and landscaping. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the project site as Mayor Leslie Waters and the city of Seminole kicked off their third annual Arts in the Park event. Nick’s accomplishment was also celebrated at his court of honor ceremony with his troop at the Elks lodge.

 

St. Petersburg Lodge Holds Christmas-in-July Event

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St. Petersburg Lodge’s midyear checkup of who has been naughty or nice took place at their annual Christmas-in-July pool party Sunday, July 22. This year’s event was the biggest in years with over 463 in attendance. Many Elks came with their kids and grandkids and invited friends and neighbors to the lodge to enjoy the festivities and share with them what Elkdom is all about.

Johnny Miller donated his time as DJ for the afternoon, and he played many Christmas tunes and other contemporary dance songs. Santa and Mrs. Claus made an appearance in their summer attire with toys for the 147 kids aged 10 and under in attendance. The kids received plush toys that were donated by lodge member Robbie Davis and they also enjoyed a free lunch of hot dogs, chips provided by the lodge and popsicles from the Ladies of Elks Auxiliary ice cream parlor.

Activities included the popular PER quarter toss into the pool for the kids to retrieve and decorating Christmas cookies with a variety of toppings. For the adults, there was a Chinese auction that is always a crowd pleaser.

On hand was Elroy the Elk with a trailer full of drug awareness education materials, coloring books, coloring paints and candy for the kids. St. Petersburg police officer Vaughn Murphy from the Crime Prevention Unit spoke to parents and kids about drug awareness and gave away various informational brochures, coloring books and PD insignia patches. Officer Murphy has been with the department for 11 years and believes that through education, the community can be a safer place for everyone.

Also in attendance was St. Petersburg's fire and rescue unit whose crew gave children and adults a tour of their fire truck and showed them their garments and protective gear which weigh approximately 100 pounds once they are fully suited. Children received plastic fire helmets. The mission of fire and rescue is to save lives and protect property through education and prevention.

Admission to this event was free for the guests of Elks members. Costs of the event which totaled $2,069 were covered with donations and money from the lodge charity account.

Pictured are Kassidy, Elroy the Elk (PER Tom Mortka), Lily and St. Pete PD’s Vaughn Murphy from the Crimes Prevention Unit at St. Petersburg Lodge’s Christmas-in-July event.

 

St. Petersburg Lodge Continues its Support of MSM Inc.

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St. Petersburg Elks Lodge #1224 donated $750 to Music Sweet Music Inc. (MSM Inc.) for their fundraising efforts to keep up the with the increasing demands of providing music therapy to children and adults in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. The donation will be used to pay MSM Inc.'s contracted board-certified music therapists.

MSM Inc. currently provides music therapy at three Tampa Bay-area children’s hospitals, one group home and several participants' homes. Veterans and members of the military have also been participants in the program. There are positive effects and healing abilities for soldiers with invisible wounds of war such as PTSD. MSM Inc. has also been called by families to use their music for patients in hospice for their spiritual, physical and emotional comfort on their end-of-life journey.

St. Petersburg Lodge member May Graci, MSM Public Relations volunteer, accepts a donation from St. Petersburg Elks Lodge on behalf of Music Sweet Music from Cathy Shriver, Exalted Ruler.

 

Lady Outlawz Softball Receives Donations from St. Petersburg Lodge

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For the St. Petersburg Elks Lodge’s Aloha-themed lodge visitation July 14, the servers were members of the Lady Outlawz softball team accompanied by lodge member Theresa Sims. The Lady Outlawz Softball organization is a travel team based out of Pinellas County, Fla., that is dedicated to teaching girls the enjoyment of the fast-pitched game as well as the physical, mental and sportsmanship aspects of the game. For the season, the organization will field teams at the 12U, 14U, 16U and 18U age divisions.

All Elks and friends who attended the visitation hosted by Exalted Ruler, Cathy Shriver, were impressed with the young ladies’ attention to detail and great communication skills and donated $407 to these hardworking young ladies for their upcoming season.

 

Gibbs HS JROTC Assists St. Petersburg Lodge with Flag Day Ceremony

On Sunday, June 10, St. Petersburg Lodge held its 107th Flag Day service and was open to the public; all ages were encouraged to attend. The program was held with the direction of Exalted Ruler, Cathy Shriver, and the lodge officers. Gibbs High School JROTC, whose mission is to motivate young people to become better citizens, performed the presentation of colors. Boy Scout Troop #334 were the flag bearers during the reading of the history of flags by H. Tom Shriver, PDD.

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Gibbs High School JROTC members Uhlman, Redding, Stakee and Smith presented the colors during St. Petersburg Lodge’s Flag Day ceremony.

 

St. Petersburg Elks Celebrate Mother's Day and Father's Day

The annual St. Petersburg Lodge Mother’s Day ceremony was held May 13 and was a moving tribute to the roles that mothers play in our lives. Members present received one of two flowers, a red flower in honor of the mother who still lives or a white flower in honor of the mother who had passed. Five gift certificates were given away after the ceremony and games were played. A free lunch was provided to all mothers in attendance.

On Sunday, June 17, Exalted Ruler Cathy Shriver started a 20-minute remembrance service poolside honoring all fathers present, those who have passed, future fathers and those men who although are not fathers take us under their wing and guide us as fathers. Shriver spoke of the importance of honoring our fathers and reflecting on how they have shaped our lives. After the service, fathers received a free lunch.

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St. Petersburg Leading Knight, Dawn Elaine Lieber, read from the writings of Ragini during the Father’s Day celebration. Pictured on the left is Exalted Ruler, Cathy Shriver.

 

Scholarship Recipients Recognized at St. Petersburg Lodge

On May 8 before the opening of the St. Petersburg Lodge meeting, two scholarship winners were awarded $1,500 each and congratulatory cards. Their families were on hand for this occasion. The seniors receiving scholarships were Sophia Augyst-Laulette, age 18, a senior at Boca Ciega High School who will pursue a degree in nursing in the fall at State College of Florida, and Tyler Grohn, age 18, a senior at Osceola High School who will pursue a degree in marine biology at Florida International University. Scholarship Chairman Joan Vignoul, PLP, is a retired teacher and reviewed and evaluated the scholarship applications.

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St. Petersburg Lodge Scholarship Chairman, Joan Vignoul, PLP, and PER Bonnie Barnes presented scholarships to Sophia Augyst-Laulette and Tyler Grohn.

 

St. Petersburg Lodge Honors Eagle Scout

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Matthew Beal, son of Robert and Jennifer Beal of St. Petersburg, Fla., has achieved the Boy Scouts’ highest rank, Eagle Scout. His award was based on his accomplishments as a scout and his service to the community. Beal, 18, is a member of Boy Scout Troop 337 and has held numerous leadership positions including Quartermaster, Troop Guide, Senior Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader and Assistant Patrol Leader. For his journey to attain the rank of Eagle Scout, Beal earned 41 merit badges, served a minimum of 16 months in a leadership position, went camping for a minimum of 24 nights, attended a minimum of seven Scoutmaster conferences, and attained five boards of reviews as well as proposing, planning, and carrying out an Eagle project.

Beal received many congratulatory letters not only from the state of Florida but also letters from throughout the U.S. Those letters included congratulations from all U.S. military branches, Florida State Senator Bill Nelson, United States Submarine Veterans and Pinellas County Sheriff, Bob Gualtieri. Included in the audience and presenting awards were Pinellas Park Mayor, Sandra Bradbury; Edwin Dewitt from the Korean War Veterans Chapter 14; St. Petersburg Lodge Exalted Ruler, Cathy Shriver, who read and presented Beal with a congratulatory letter from Grand Exalted Ruler Malcolm J. McPherson Jr.; and West Central District Deputy, H. Tom Shriver, who read and presented Beal with a Grand Exalted Ruler certificate of merit and a pin.

Matthew Beal reached his goal of Eagle Scout in December 2017 and received his Eagle badge during a Court of Honor ceremony held at St. Petersburg Lodge April 28. Master of Ceremonies was Scout Master Jeff Mills.

 

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:

TinaH@elks.org

JessicaR@elks.org

 

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