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.
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.
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 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 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 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.