Deep Creek Elks Lodge #2763 hosted its second annual Tunnel to Towers (T2T) charity benefit Sept. 11. Generous donations were received from National Merchants, local businesses and individuals. Two silent auctions were held, one for a 20-person wine tasting from Total Wine & More and another for a painting created by lodge member Karen French of the T2T mirror pool memorial and observatory. Free meals were given to all active and retired first responders and military members. The event generated $2,141 in donations through food, gifts, raffles and the silent auctions. The lodge agreed to match these donations using its charity account. As an additional donation, the lodge also agreed to match the cost of the donated food, which totaled $413.45. The T2T foundation was formed after 9/11 to assist America’s heroes by providing mortgage-free homes to Gold Star families and families of fallen first responders with young children and by building custom-designed smart homes for catastrophically injured veterans and first responders. They are also committed to eradicating veteran homelessness and aiding the victims of major U.S. disasters.
Pictured are Scott Phillips, Exalted Ruler; Jack Upton, event chair; and members Darryl Martin and Chuck Paulson preparing meals in the kitchen.
Also shown is the painting from the silent auction.
On Sept. 18, Sebastian Lodge’s Community Projects and Activities Committee held a complimentary event at the lodge for local families, funded by a portion of the Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. As part of its ongoing literacy and education program, the lodge opened a Little Free Library, which was installed with the Vice Mayor, Fred Jones, cutting the ribbon at its dedication. An afternoon of free fun activities, books and food was built around the dedication. There were lots of games with prizes available to all children along with temporary tattoos and bingo for kids. Elroy the Elk made an appearance, and the Sebastian Police Department’s Community Outreach “COPE” Unit attended, providing complimentary snow cones and popcorn. To promote literacy and education, the event included free books for all kids, and prizes included bookmarks, rulers, specialty erasers and activity books, to name a few. Drug awareness material was passed out as well. During bingo, when a letter was called, kids shouted out words beginning with that letter. Music was provided by one of the lodge’s ‘adopted’ veterans, who kept things lively. Approximately 100 parents and children attended. More than two dozen Elks and El Does (Ladies of Elks) assisted with this event.
Pictured are Bailey, who knocked all the cans down with one bean bag; Hailey and Chaslyn with Elroy the Elk; Lyra, matching ducks as her mom, Nelly, looks on; Fred Jones, Sebastian Vice Mayor, with Chuck Marchetti, Exalted Ruler, with the new Little Free Library; and Connie Wellman overseeing a prize booth.
Boca Raton Elks Lodge #2166 used its Elks National Foundation Beacon and Spotlight grants to purchase supplies for teachers at three schools. More than $6,000 in supplies were delivered by members.
Pictured Aug. 30 at Boca Raton Middle School are Brian Williamson; Tito Young, PER; Lisa Lee, principal; Paula Buss; and Shirley Board.
Also pictured Aug. 30 at Silver Lake Middle School are Brian Williamson; Tito Young, PER; Patty Williamson; Ian MacDonald, PER; Shirley Board; Vinny Como, PSP, Exalted Ruler; Paula Buss; Pat Maher, PDD, member and teacher; and Errol Evans, principal.
Pictured Aug. 31 at Orchard View Elementary School are teachers Jessica Robinson, Ashley Sharpe, Daniella Lanes, Samantha Estupinan (assistant principal), Nikki Christensen, Kaitlyn Morrison, Chloe Carbo and Tony Young. Members are Shirley Board; Vinny Como, PSP, Exalted Ruler; Patty Williamson; Ian MacDonald, PER; Paula Buss; and Brian Williamson.
From July 4 through July 10, 26 high school students from the Bethel Powerhouse Youth Group in Chicago, Illinois, teamed with Greater Pine Island Elks Lodge #2781 to assist with housing cleanup and repairs for seniors and veterans with low incomes on the island. The lodge used its $6,000 Elks National Foundation Impact Grant to provide the supplies and materials. Lodge members assisted and supervised as the team worked on five homes. They cleaned; removed mold from and painted three trailers; insulated; repaired and replaced siding; and did much-needed yard work, including mowing, weeding and trimming. They also helped paint the local VFW and the First Baptist Church. The pastor from the First Baptist Church of Pine Island has a cousin who is the youth pastor in Chicago. This is the second year that this group has come to the island and worked on seniors’ and veterans’ houses. The students pay their own way and are housed with families on the island.
Throughout July, Lake Placid Elks Lodge #2661 oversaw a school supply drive, organized by member Cathy Keck. She spoke with schools and got a list of needed school supplies and secured a bus for the July stuff-the-bus event. The community was asked to donate school supplies and to drop them off at boxes placed around town or at the lodge. On Aug. 6, the lodge held a back-to-school bash to distribute all the supplies. At the event were police officers, firefighters, EMTs, K-9 Waylon, school board candidates and clowns. The lodge gave out approximately 200 bags of school supplies to students from kindergarten through high school. The lodge is hoping for an even larger turnout next year.
Pictured are lodge members Gordon Ellery Jr., Amy Ellery and Alesia Cheshire. Also pictured are students with members of law enforcement and the fire department.
The Southwest District, in coordination with Bradenton Elks Lodge #1511 and Manasota Elks Lodge #2734, provided Marine veteran and recent Florida resident Sharif Elwardany with assistance in finding permanent housing, car repairs and other immediate needs. Elwardany received $1,000 from the district, and both lodges put him in contact with Veterans Village, an organization with temporary housing; Manatee County Turning Points Yellow Ribbon Program for personal hygiene, household goods, clothing, housing, and related items; and the C.W. Young VA Medical Center Elks representative for an emergency kit through the Veterans Administration. Veterans apply to the VA for registration, complete an application and submit unpaid bills, such as car repairs, electric bills, etc., that the vet was behind on. Then the government, through the VA, pays the vendors. Eligible veterans can get up to $2,500 in support.
Pictured Aug. 5 are Bob Erwin, PDD of Bradenton Lodge; veteran Sharif Elwardany; and Bill Rauh, Bradenton Lodge Veterans Chair.