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Florida Elks News Editor:
Rachael King
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Florida State Elks Association Inc.
P.O. Box 49
Umatilla, FL 32784-0049

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1529 food

Sebring Lodge continues to support Hands for the Homeless, an organization in Avon Park, Florida. Last year, they donated $4,000 to them from the Elks National Foundation Spotlight and Gratitude grants. This year, they are making quarterly food donations. They collect food at the lodge from members, and a large contribution comes from their charity bingo players. 

Pictured April 20 are Jim Mason, PDD and Diane Morse, Loyal Knight. Not pictured is Wainetta Holmes, PER, who works very hard in collecting and storing the donations.


1529 star

                       1529 stars check  1529 stars pitch

On April 2, the Special STARS (Sports Training And Recreational Services) held their 21st annual softball classic. Special STARS provides sports and recreational services for more than 300 children and adults with disabilities in Highlands, Hardee and southern Polk counties. For many years, Sebring Elks Lodge #1529 has been a proud sponsor of this organization and because of their generous donations through the years, they have been included in the All-Star Wall. The ceremony began with a show of support by the Highland's County Sheriff's Office, followed by the presentation of colors by Ralph Meyers and singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Jonathan Spiegel, Exalted Ruler, presented a check to STARS member Jack Garnett in the amount of $350 which added to the previous check not used due to the pandemic shutdown, totaling $1,000. Spiegel also threw out the first pitch to get the tournament, which consisted of five teams, started. As usual, Cindy Marshall, Special STARS coordinator, did a great job and is pictured with the Germaine Surveying Inc. team.


1578 auction  1578 auction2

The Eustis Anna Miller Circle held a fundraising auction March 20-27 in memory of Susan Locke, who had chaired this event for many years prior to her passing away. Donations were accepted for a month prior to the auction. Cindy Bennett, event chair; Joyce Denzer, co-chair; and Jean Witt, committee member, gathered 60 items (27 gift baskets, 25 single items and eight gift cards) with the help of the Anna Miller Circle members and the Elks community. Volunteers spent 150 hours selling tickets at lodge events and putting the items together to display. The auction raised $1,800 and will be used to send local children in need to the Florida Elks Youth Camp this summer.

Pictured are displays of the auction items and Cindy Bennett, event chair, and Chris Getchell, President of the Anna Miller Circle, selling tickets.


    2383 food 2383 cookiesA

2383 mags

On March 7, Robin Rutzke, Lodge Veterans Chair, and Sharon Hammersla, District Deputy, held their seventh quarterly drop-off for donations for the Nativity local food bank and the veterans at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital. Thirty-two Elks and one guest stopped by to contribute 432 pounds of food with a net worth of approximately $864. All food was transported and donated to the Nativity food bank. Members also dropped off magazines that were donated to the recreational therapy department at the veterans hospital. One lodge member donated 10 boxes of her favorite thin mint Girl Scout cookies which were donated to Voluntary Services at the hospital. Rutzke works with the Voluntary Services Department to coordinate times for drop-offs and ensure thank you letters are written and sent. The department staff is always there to answer any questions. “They are the nucleus for donations and always have great attitudes,” Rutzke says.

The lodge’s Elks National Foundation Freedom Grant was used to purchase $750 in Olive Garden gift cards for the recreational therapy unit. These will be used for a luncheon for patients put on by the recreational therapy services team. Olive Garden is the gift card of choice because they will make the meals compatible to patient dietary needs. Prior to the pandemic, patients were guests at the monthly lodge dinner. In addition, a check for $738 from the Freedom Grant was presented and will be used for Zoom bingo and the annual picnic for the patients. Prior to the pandemic, this picnic was held at the lodge, but this year it will be held at the hospital. 

Hammersla notes, “Robin and I are grateful to the Brandon Elks and Ladies of the Elks for their continued generous support of this project. Brandon Lodge continues its efforts to build a strong lodge community. Our local food pantry and veterans are grateful for our support.”

Pictured with the food bank donations are Sharon Hammersla and Robin Rutzke.

Angela Reinhardt, Voluntary Service Specialist at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, is pictured with the donated Girl Scout cookies.

Pictured outside James A. Haley Veterans Hospital are Geoff Hopkins, Chief of Recreation Therapy; Robin Rutzke, Lodge Veterans Chair; and Anthony House, recreation therapist.


2113 Tim Nguyen 2113 Jamie Tucker 2113 Dimitrios Pribyl

On March 26, Titusville Elks Lodge #2113 awarded three $1,000 scholarships to deserving students. These funds were due to the generosity of lodge bingo players who donated throughout the year.

Cat Simkins, Lodge Scholarship Chair, is pictured with the students — Tim Nguyen, Titusville High School; Jamie Tucker, Astronaut High School; and Dimitrios Pribyl, Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School. 


      2378 books 1  2378 books 2

Myakka River Elementary School held its annual book fair during the week of Jan. 23, which coincides with National Reading Day. For the past several years, Englewood Lodge has provided funds to purchase books for the second and third graders. This year, they donated $950 for the books.

Pictured Feb. 7 are some very happy students holding their books.