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Florida Elks News Editor:
Rachael King
Entire contents copyright 2021 by the
Florida State Elks Association Inc.
P.O. Box 49
Umatilla, FL 32784-0049

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On May 18, St. Augustine Elks Lodge #829 recognized the continuous dedication, commitment and hard work of the teachers and staff at R.B. Hunt Elementary School by providing an appreciation breakfast. These teachers and staff members have worked diligently throughout a most difficult school year, providing a secure and healthy learning environment for their students.

Pictured are Chris Love, Inner Guard; Amanda Garmand, principal; Joe Smith Sr., Exalted Ruler; and Sara McDavitt, chaplain.


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Brandon Lodge’s quarterly food and magazine drive-thru collection event took place June 19. With input before the event from past District Vice President Sharon Hammersla, member Robin Rutzke hosted the drop-off for members to bring their donations for the community. Rutzke reported that 28 members stopped by with donations and seven nonmembers brought donations. A total of 582 pounds of food valued at approximately $1,164 was later delivered by Hammersla and Rutzke to the Nativity Food Bank for distribution to the local food pantries in the area. The dedicated volunteers at the Nativity Food Bank (Past Brandon Ladies of Elks President Julie Ebert and lodge member Charlene Hart) are so grateful that the Brandon members support such a worthy cause. Nativity Food Bank is always beyond excited to receive “first-rate” food from this quarterly donation. The donated magazines are given to Kim Peatee, who works at Recreation Therapy at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital. Peatee said that the magazines are so important because the patients in the hospital as well as her homebound patients enjoy reading them so much and it shows them that people do care about them and that they are not forgotten. The success of each quarterly drive-thru is the result of teamwork. Rutzke and Hammersla chair and hosts these quarterly events, while members such as Julie Ebert, Rick Weigand, Kathy Brogli and Beth Benham handle the advertising, gathering, delivering and distribution. Rutzke even recruited two of her teenage neighbors to volunteer from start to finish, greeting people and helping to unload and reload the items for delivery. Ethan McAlister, who is currently in high school, and his brother, Brodie McAlister, who is in middle school, enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer for such a worthy cause, practicing leadership and communication skills. Both are homeschooled and Ethan is working toward earning community service hours needed to apply for a Bright Futures scholarship. Their mother, Mari McAlister, said, “Thank you so much for having them. They haven’t stopped talking about it!” Maybe these boys are Elks in training! Rutzke and Hammersla send thanks to all those who contribute to this or any event put on by any Elks lodge, making such events successful.

Brodie McAlister, Ethan McAlister, and Leading Knight Marionette Sexton unload food donations from a donor’s trunk.

Members Kathy Brogli and Robin Rutzke and Brodie and Ethan McAlister show the numerous donations.

Brodie McAlister, Robin Rutzke, Kathy Brogli and Ethan McAlister display the generous magazine donations.

Delivery to Nativity Food Pantry is done by endorsed-DDGER Sharon Hammersla, Robin Rutzke and Past Brandon Ladies of Elks President Julie Ebert.


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Of the Florida Elks’ 35 Elks National Foundation (ENF) Most Valuable Student scholarship recipients for 2021, two were sponsored by Ormond Beach Elks Lodge #2193 — Logan Pigliacampi of Seabreeze High School and Alice Le Roux of Spruce Creek High School. These students will each receive a $4,000 scholarship from the Elks National Foundation, dispersed at $1,000 per year for four years. In addition to these ENF scholarships, Ormond Beach Lodge awarded three $500 scholarships to Amariah Hines of Seabreeze High School, Flynn Baliton of Father Lopez Catholic High School and Ashlyn Moore of Sunlake High School. On June 11, the lodge held a dinner to honor their scholarship recipients. Four of the five scholars and their families were able to attend and each recipient was presented with a certificate. Pictured are Marlena Pigliacampi, scholarship committee member; Maria DeArmon, PER, Exalted Ruler; Ashlyn Moore; Amariah Hines; Logan Pigliacampi; Alice Le Roux; and Erika Barger, scholarship chair and District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler designate. Flynn Baliton was unable to attend.


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DeLand Elks Lodge #1463 recognized Armed Forces Day by hosting a free barbecue for active-duty and veteran personnel. More than 200 dinners were served by more than 40 Elks volunteers. The food was donated by local businesses as well as by lodge members. One of the veterans who attended also completed an application for membership. Phil Watercutter, PDD, chaired this event. 

Pictured are Rudy Masi Sr., then-state president; Davina Watercutter, lodge secretary; Dolly Masi PER, then-state first lady; and Phil Watercutter, PDD.


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On May 15, Sebring Lodge participated in the fourth annual Kids Bicycle Rodeo, hosted by Sebring Fire Department and Police Department, by donating 20 new bicycles to be raffled. The event focused on children's bicycle safety and included an open house of the fire department, live DJ, bicycle course, free bicycle check, free hot dogs, snow cones, popcorn and helmets. Pictured are Greg Carr; Jonathan Spiegel, Leading Knight; Rachel Smit; Dillon Hathway; and Captain Austin Maddox. The name was not available for the person on the right. Approximately 200 children participated and about 500 people were in attendance.


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On April 17, Manasota Elks Lodge #2734 and the Oneco Elementary School N.U.B.S. (Never Underestimate Brave Students) group hosted an Alex’s Lemonade Stand in front of Fiona’s Recipe Box Eatery in Bradenton, Florida, which is owned and operated by former Oneco Elementary School students. All funds raised go directly to the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research. The event was in honor of Austin Baxter, an Oneco third grade cancer survivor, and in memory of Brian Gildenzoph, who passed away more than 20 years ago from cancer. He was the nephew of Marie Mueller, Oneco N.U.B.S. co-advisor. The N.U.B.S. group did a phenomenal job promoting Alex’s Lemonade Stand and collecting donations both at the stand and in coin boxes through April 26. A donation of $3,233.96 was mailed to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation on behalf of Manasota Elks Lodge and the Oneco Elementary School N.U.B.S. group.

Oneco N.U.B.S. member Austin Baxter is pictured behind the lemonade stand.

Also pictured are Stephanie Lund, lodge member; Mallory Brendel and Alexia Fuentes, Oneco N.U.B.S. members; and lodge members Diane Davis, 5-year trustee; Marie Mueller, Oneco N.U.B.S. co-advisor; and  Ginny Kollath, Lodge Secretary.