On Dec. 28, Green Cove Springs Elks Lodge #1892 used a portion of its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to sponsor a winter carnival at the Green Cove Springs Library. The event, geared toward children under the age of 6, featured crafts, games, ice cream, face painters, and story time with characters Elsa and Olaf from the movie “Frozen.” The event was attended by 165 children, 135 family members and 21 volunteers. Each child was given a book of their own to keep.
Pictured are story time and two children receiving their books.
On Dec. 17, Greater Pine Island Elks Lodge #2781 teamed with the Pine Island F.I.S.H. (Fellow Islanders Sending Help) to set up a free holiday toy and gift store using the items collected from the Walgreens-Elks drive. Parents were invited to shop for two or three gifts per child. Concurrently, children had a free gift store as well, so they could shop for parents or grandparents.
Pictured are Michael Berio, F.I.S.H.; Darcy Connor, Elk; Lori Tidwell, F.I.S.H.; Salim Hakima, F.I.S.H.; Judy Hopkins, PER, Elk; Erika Rios, F.I.S.H.; and Alexis Girona, F.I.S.H. Photo credit/Tiffany Noel
On Dec. 3, Holiday Isles Lodge held the first of what will be an annual Christmas festival at the lodge for members and their families and members’ friends. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived on a Madeira Beach Fire Department firetruck. There were 12 activities, crafts and games for the children; each game or station had a toy or prize they could win. They also had face painting and tattoo tables, golf cart rides, and presents. Kid-friendly food was provided throughout the event, including chicken tenders, meatballs, macaroni and cheese bites, fresh vegetables with dip, corn dogs, pigs in a blanket, water, sodas, and juice as well as a hot chocolate station with peppermint sticks for stirring and marshmallows for the top.
Member volunteers pictured in the back are Eric Crampton, Debbie Rase, Joseph Hart, Mike Querner, Jessica Shaw, George Thompson, Richard DeBlasio and Daniela Vinci. Seated are Sandra Gann, Christa Thompson, Dawn Crampton, Paula DeBlasio, Rhonda Smith, Jamie Hosni and Paulette Querner. Seated on the floor are Brooke Martin, Diane Piscopo and Loren Hanke.
Also pictured is Santa arriving.
Manasota Lodge hosted its annual children’s Breakfast with Santa Dec. 17, funded by the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant and lodge contributions. The event helped 38 children and 17 families from Abel Elementary School and Bayshore Elementary School, both Title 1 schools. Upon arrival, children and guardians were served breakfast. Soon after, everyone went outside and anxiously waited for Santa and Mrs. Claus to arrive by fire truck with a siren blaring. Once inside, Santa and Mrs. Claus called each child’s name and gave them wrapped gifts with an outfit of clothing and a toy. Each family was given a food box that contained a toiletry bag for each child and a $10 McDonald’s gift card, a $25 gift certificate to Publix or Winn-Dixie, and nonperishable food items. Jan “Spike” Klocke headed up this party, Shawn Wheaton shopped for all the children’s outfits, Art Waldron and his crew cooked breakfast, and numerous volunteers helped in other ways. Leftover toys were donated to Bayshore Elementary School’s Winter Wonderland children’s event with Santa.
Pictured are guests waiting for Santa; children receiving gifts from Santa and Mrs. Claus; and Santa and Mrs. Claus (members Jack Shutts and Mickie Beck) with Cedar Hammock Fire Station firefighters.
Participation in Jupiter Lodge’s Angel Tree resulted in a new outfit and a gift for 125 local children. All deliveries were made Dec. 16 and Dec. 19.
At Jerry Thomas Elementary School, recipients William Carter, Wynter Carter, Edison Argueta-Matias, Daniel Aristhene, David Aristhene, Keydi Marcos-Sebastian, Rosy Montejo and Nancy Pedro Marcos are pictured with Sharyn Ayres, guidance counselor, and Megan LaVogue, ESOL coordinator. Pictured at Jupiter Elementary are Officer Larson; Steve Brancazio, PER; Tamara Cruz, school staff member; Elks Paul Diener, Bobby Paul, Iris Paul, Bill Jackson, and Laura Rusak; and Lilian Mabjish and Enid Marcano, school staff members.
Viera Elks Lodge #2817 has a very active Antlers group. This youth group helps with functions at both Viera and Cocoa lodges as well as with community projects. On Dec. 17, under the leadership of lodge member Heidi Vargas, they along with Viera Lodge members and spouses participated in the annual Wreaths Across America day, where they placed wreaths on and cleaned up around all of the veterans’ graves at Pinecrest Cemetery in Cocoa, Florida. The cemetery is most well-known as the resting place of Emory L. Bennett, a Korean War hero and Medal of Honor recipient. The national Wreaths Across America day is a day to remember U.S. veterans by placing wreaths on their graves and saying the names of the fallen, so as to not forget their sacrifices. Wreaths Across America has been an annual event since 1992, taking place at over 1,200 locations across America. Throughout the year, Wreaths Across America teaches children the value of freedom with their events.
Pictured are Antlers Evan Enrique, Aidan Carroll, Janey Vargas, Lillie Box, Max Mendoza, Bella Wessel, Donald Ahlin Jr., Erin Enrique and Jake Vargas.