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.
At Club Chivalry for Successful Students’ November meeting, the guest Speaker was U.S. Navy CW5 Ron Carpenter. He described his climb out of the south side of Chicago to become a top officer in the Navy. Tampa Elks Lodge #708 sponsors this student group.
Again this year, Largo Lodge’s Christmas angel tree was a huge success. Members took one of the tags from the tree with an area child’s name who is in foster care. Their age, hobbies and wish gift request were included on the tag. Members provided a gift for their sponsored child, and the presents were distributed to the children before Christmas.
Largo Elks Lodge’s bartenders held their second annual blind auction Nov. 10. The bartenders took a portion of their tips to buy fun gifts. In two and a half hours, over 170 items were auctioned off, raising $1,850 which was used to purchase Christmas gifts for underprivileged children. Pictured is Marcia Lowe, bar manager.
Thanks to the Elks National Foundation Promise Grant of $2,500 and deep discounts from Walgreens, St. Petersburg Lodge volunteers went Christmas shopping for toys for kids ages newborn to 10. On Dec. 1, the lodge hosted their annual community kids’ Christmas party. Christmas music was provided by elf Johnny Miller. There were stations for games, Christmas ornament craft decoration, cookie decorating and balloon making. A free lunch and dessert were served to 86 kids and 141 parents, grandparents and elves present. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived when they heard the sound of sleigh bells being rung by the excited boys and girls. Santa spent time with each child and gave each child an especially selected toy.
The lodge was also able to provide toys to make Christmas a much brighter one for 60 children sheltered at CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse). CASA provides safety, empowerment and prevention programs to help domestic violence survivors and stop the generational cycle of violence.
On Dec. 2, St. Petersburg Lodge presented a check for $500 to Suncoast Safe Kids. The Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition was established in 1991 and is led by Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., and serves five counties in the Tampa Bay area. It is an affiliate of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global organization dedicated to preventing injuries in children, the No. 1 killer of kids in the United States. The coalition unites health and safety experts, first responders, educators, local agencies, civic groups, businesses, and volunteers from each community served. Each county elects officers who meet monthly with the Safe Kids membership to review childhood injury data and to develop strategies to combat specific childhood injuries.
Pictured are Charlene Cobb, chairperson of Pinellas Coalition; Martin Sharp, Lecturing Knight; and Petra Vybiralova Stanton, Johns Hopkins/All Children's supervisor to Pinellas Coalition.
Dixie Hollins’ Interact Club members were the servers for St. Petersburg Elks Lodge #1224 during the Not-So-Beauty beauty pageant Oct. 13 and the USA show and veterans appreciation dinner Nov. 3. The club members received $520 in cash donated by attendees of the pageant and an additional $500 was giving by a lodge member who wishes to remain anonymous. The members received $480 during the USA show and dinner.
The Interact Club is a service group that helps the surrounding community and the students earn volunteer hours toward scholarships. Nine members volunteered at each event so they could earn cash to start the new scholarship, the Anthony Melcher Memorial Fund. This scholarship will be available to senior track and cross country athletes. This scholarship is being established by Diana Melcher, Anthony’s sister, and the Melcher-Baer family along with the Interact Club. Their focus is to increase awareness about suicide prevention while raising money for scholarships for young athletes at Dixie Hollins High School. Anthony Melcher graduated with honors from Dixie Hollins High School in 2009 where he was captain of the cross country team and won many awards. He was also the captain of his team in Ragner Relay Races. Melcher, 20, of Pinellas Park, Fla., died by suicide, July 24, 2011.
This scholarship is available to graduating seniors who participated in track and cross country for a minimum of two years, must have a minimum GPA of 3.3, must have demonstrated a minimum of 50 hours of school and community service, and be seeking a four-year degree. The scholarship winner will receive $1,000.
Diana Melcher, second from left, stands with several members of the Interact Club. Behind them are Anthony’s cross country shirt, medals and awards. She and the club established the Anthony Melcher Memorial Fund and started its fundraising at St. Petersburg Lodge Oct. 13.
Tampa Lodge partnered with MGM Friends Charity Partners and Open Arms to feed more than 150 homeless people. Pictured are member Bob Suhrheinrich, MGM board member Georgianna Strickland and members Patty Volpe and Donna Halsey.