Crestview Lodge used its $2,000 Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to support Shelter House in Okaloosa County, Florida. Shelter House supports survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Pictured Aug. 18 are Bud Tipton, Exalted Ruler, presenting a $1,000 check and 400+ items needed for the shelter to Laurie Brooks, Shelter House volunteer coordinator. The success of this donation is due in large part to Natalia "Talya" Reis-Fredriksen, Lodge Secretary, for all the behind-the-scenes work.
There was a request in the Englewood Elks Lodge March bulletin for homemade crocheted or knitted blankets for veterans who are homeless. Between May 15 and Aug. 25, 94 blankets were made and delivered to the Elks. ON Aug. 25, Paul Colicci Jr., Veterans lodge chair, delivered them to the Homeless Coalition of Charlotte County in Port Charlotte, Florida. This organization serves anyone who is homeless but has special resources for veterans. Pictured with Colicci (right) is Mary Lou Anderson (left) of the Homeless Coalition.
Pensacola Beach Elks Lodge #497 donated $2,000 from its charity account to the Gulf Coast Kid's House in Pensacola, Florida, a children's advocacy center serving Escambia County. They combine resources needed for the intervention, investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases in one child-friendly facility. Pictured Aug. 23 are Dan Smith, Exalted Ruler, and Stacey Kostevicki, program director.
On Aug. 19, Palm Coast Elks Lodge #2709 made a $3,250 donation to K9s For Warriors, The lodge donated $750 of its own funds and the rest came from the lodge’s $2,500 Elks National Foundation Freedom Grant. According to k9sforwarriors.org, “Determined to end veteran suicide, K9s For Warriors provides highly-trained service dogs to military veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma. With the majority of dogs coming from high-kill rescue shelters, this innovative program allows the K9/warrior team to build an unwavering bond that facilitates their collective healing and recovery.” Pictured at the check presentation are Pete Lehnertz, lodge House Committee member; Stephanie Vogt from the K9s For Warriors corporate office in Ponte Vedra, Florida; and John Clouser, Exalted Ruler. Also pictured is trainer Jay Williams with a trainee.
With local children in mind, Port St. Lucie Elks Lodge #2658 donated $5,500 to the local nonprofit Grace Packs Inc. using its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. The mission of Grace Packs, located in Port St. Lucie, Florida, is to provide weekly weekend food for students who lack an ample food supply, relieving the burden many of these children endure by being hungry. Feeding America statistics reveal that currently the projected child food insecurity rate for St. Lucie County is 28%. Pictured Aug. 17 are Rick Barth, PER, lodge grant coordinator; Bill Repoli, Exalted Ruler; Laura Klosterman, Grace Packs administrator; and Debbie Webb, Grace Packs Treasurer.
Tampa Elks Lodge #708 held a back-to-school party Aug. 3 for area children in need. Two community organizations gave assistance as well — MGM Charity Partners and Happy’s Home Centers. They also helped fund the event along with the lodge charity fund and member donations. Before the party, more than 20 volunteers packed bags with appropriate school supplies for each child based on their grade. Parents and 63 students were in attendance. Upon arrival, each child received a bag of material from the Elks Drug Awareness program and a fruit snack. A spaghetti dinner was then served to all the children, parents and volunteers. During dinner, Woogie Bajgier from MGM Charity Partners explained that the focus of their charity is children and veterans, just like the Elks. Tampa lodge member Roshaun Gendrett, a professional motivational speaker, encouraged the children present to have their best school year by doing just three things: “Do your best,” “Do the right thing,” and “Don’t give up.” A representative from Happy’s Home Centers spoke about the company’s commitment to families of south Tampa. After the speaker presentations, each student obtained their personalized bag of school supplies and went to the MGM table to pick out a box of cereal, a box of Pop Tarts and 10 snack items. At the Happy’s Home Centers table, they picked up a drawstring backpack, T-shirt and more supplies. Lodge Youth Activities chairs, Mike and Patty Volpe, then led the children in playing three physically active games beside their seats. All the children took turns at the prize table, where they could choose additional school supplies, snacks and small toys. By the party’s end, each child left with at least three very full bags of items to make going back to school more successful.