Florida Elks News Editor:
Rachael King
Entire contents copyright 2023 by the
Florida State Elks Association Inc.
P.O. Box 49
Umatilla, FL 32784-0049

Share Your Story

We'd love to see & share your Lodge & District Events!

FSEA - Share Your Story

Let's promote what our Florida Elks are doing to support your community


Millenium Walkway Logo

Preserve any person, event, or memory with a personalized brick at your Florida Elks Youth Camp in Umatilla, Florida. 

Learn More

Florida Elks News Online

708 row

Tampa Elks Lodge #708 donated $500 from its Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant Jan. 22 to the Academy of the Holy Names rowing team, a 501(c)(3) charity that must raise funds to exist. They practice at Julian Lane Riverfront Park and share the park boathouse on Hillsborough River with other local longboat rowing teams. This team does community service at the lodge during children’s parties and at Open Arms, serving those who are homeless. 

Pictured with rowing team members are Wendy Hall, Exalted Ruler, and Paul DeLand, PER, board chair.


708 santa

Tampa Lodge hosted more than 100 children and their families Dec. 16 at the Youth Committee’s annual children’s Christmas party. As guests found their seats, they found coloring pages and games at their seats while they waited patiently for Santa (Paul DeLand, PER) and his Pirate friend (Stephen Willis). Once Santa arrived, the children took turns sharing their Christmas wishes with him. They were most excited to get a picture with Santa, thanks to Kim VanWalker. While they waited to see Santa, they participated in crafts and games, including decorating cookies, which were donated by Sandy and Carl Jacobs; decorating ornaments, making reindeer food, and doing a snowball toss. During this time, the parents shopped for toys in the Antler room, including gifts from the Walgreens-Elks gift drive, toys donated by members, and gifts purchased using funds donated by members, including a generous anonymous donor, Paula Rouselle, Jack Johnson, Sam Washington and Sharon Dobson. Afterward, everyone enjoyed a spaghetti dinner, cooked by Dee Cisneros, PER; Shelagh Gombarcik; and April Holtzman. At the end of the event, children received Christmas goody bags. The event was put on by Jackie Jacobs, Youth Activities Chair, and 49 volunteers.

Pictured are Soccer and Hoop Shoot winners Elijah, Selina and Aubrianna Saffor with Santa.


708 sam

On Nov. 13 and Dec. 11, Tampa Lodge held Club Chivalry meetings at Robinson High School. This year’s members are students in ninth and 11th grade and selected by Ms. Morman, assistant principal of administration. Because of the two-year gap, November’s meeting included team building. At the December meeting, pizza was served while lodge member Senior Master Sargeant Sam Washington, retired, spoke about his career in the Ari Force. He had been headed for a professional basketball career but was worried about being drafted into the Army. After hearing about the benefits of a 20-year career, he signed up for the Air Force. By the time he retired, he had three daughters and had a home in south Tampa. Following his retirement, he served another career as a police officer, mainly working at the airport. The students were attentive and asked some good questions. Washington is a 2023 participant in the Florida State Elks Association’s Historical Programs Parade of Heroes.

Pictured is Sam Washington speaking to the students.


1224 parcel

On Dec. 15, 27 St. Petersburg Elks Lodge members, pictured, assembled 366 holiday food parcels for local families in need. Each bag contained ham, mashed potatoes and gravy mix, stuffing, green beans, corn, yams, cranberry sauce, macaroni and cheese, pudding mix, and evaporated milk. The food, valued at $8,500, was purchased in part with a $2,500 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant and proceeds from a Night at the Races fundraiser. Members also donated items.


708 jordon

Tampa Lodge’s Oct. 23 Club Chivalry meeting of 27 students at Robinson High School began with Carolyn Miller handing out raffle tickets for two $25 gift cards, like they do for each meeting — one at first bell to encourage the students to arrive on time and one at last bell so they stay until the end. Shelagh Gombarcik, PLP and Tommy Moore distributed the beverages and Betty Orcutt, Bonnie Atwood and Elma Kelly handled the treats. Robert Maloney tallied the club officer election results, which had an overwhelming majority — president, Jordan, 11th grade, pictured with Tommy Moore; vice president, Miah, 11th grade; secretary, Jaiden, 9th grade; and public relations, Markeria, 9th grade. The meeting also included team building games and the distribution of club T-shirts. Several students even wandered in to ask how they could join.


708 shoots1 708 shoots2 708 shoots3

On Oct. 15, Tampa Elks Lodge #708 held its Hoop Shoot and Soccer Shoot at SLAM! Tampa, a K-12 charter school in Citrus Park. Member Roshaun Gendrett is the Dean of Students and arranged for the competitions to be held in their indoor gym. Hoop Shoot contestants get 25 shots. Soccer Shoot contestants get 15 shots to hit the goal. The goal was sectioned out in point value. The higher the kick into the net, the higher the points they received. There were first and second place medals for the winning boys and girls in each of the three age divisions. The winners move on to the district competition. The Hoop and Soccer Shoot Committee provided drinks, snacks and Halloween candy during both events. All the volunteers and participants and their families also had a fried chicken dinner from Publix, which included green beans and mac & cheese with cookies for dessert. The adults were all entered into a raffle for a $50 gift card, which Tampa member Kim Benzing won. Drug Awareness bags with coloring books and crayons were also distributed to participants. There were 26 volunteers for this event, including eight non-Elks. The rest were members of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Holiday Isles and Eustis lodges.

Pictured are Patricia Volpe, Tampa Hoop and Soccer Shoot Chair; Aubriyanna Soffer, champion; and Bryan Sullins, Tampa Elks volunteer spouse; Hoop Shoot warmup with volunteer Yaitza Blasini and participants Aubriyanna Soffer, Selena Soffer and Kenner Reeves; and the Soccer Shoot warmup.