New Port Richey Elks Lodge #2284 used its $3,500 Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to provide 20 Thanksgiving meals to those less fortunate than them. Rebecca Soto, Lodge Secretary, delivered food certificates to two schools which were required at the meal pickup at the lodge Nov. 21. School staff members chose the recipients. Pictured are Walter Wieshaar Jr., member; Soto; and Barbara Rodgers, PER, Exalted Ruler.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu is more important than ever. To protect their members and community, St. Petersburg Lodge partnered with Walgreens to provide flu shots Nov. 7 at the lodge. Walgreens specially trained pharmacists know which flu shot is right for each client based on their age and health history. Recipients of the shots brought their photo ID, insurance information and completed an assessment/consent form. Denise and Jaymi from Walgreens volunteered their time to administer flu shots from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event ran smoothly due to the professionalism and efficiency of Walgreens’ well-trained staff and volunteers. Pictured are Jaymi and Denise from Walgreens as well as lodge member Janet Gens receiving a flu shot from Denise.
Nine-year-old Michael was gifted a therapy tricycle Oct. 13 after Miami Elks Lodge #948 paid the full sponsorship amount of only $1,577.40. The value of the tricycle was $2,390, but Wheelchairs 4 Kids, a program the lodge often works with, was granted a discount. The tricycle was delivered to his home directly from the manufacturer.
According to Nina Shaw, Wheelchairs 4 Kids programs manager, “His life was difficult from the very beginning. He was born only after 23 weeks and diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Instead of going home to the comfort of his family, Michael had to spend seven months in the hospital. He has endured 14 surgeries and needs even more procedures. His last surgery took almost seven hours. Michael has daily challenges as a result of his illness. He is cognitively impaired and learning how to walk using a gait trainer. These obstacles might seem insurmountable for Michael, but he is remarkably resilient.
“Michael can be described as a great kid with cool interests. He listens to a variety of music, but his favorite artists are Andrea Bocelli and Mark Anthony. He likes reading, writing and putting together puzzles. He enjoys going outside and playing ball with his dad. Michael also participates in equine therapy. Most of all, Michael is simply awesome, and his biggest fans are Mom and Dad. His father says, ‘Everyone said our life would be hard and it has been all the contrary! Every day he gives us a new surprise. Sometimes it’s doing something he has never done before. His drive is just amazing. He’s at therapy at 8 a.m. and at 3 p.m. he wants to keep going!’ Michael’s mom says that her son is beautiful and that he wakes up each morning with a big smile. Both parents say in joyful unison about their son, ‘He is our biggest blessing.’
Michael needs a therapy tricycle to improve his leg strength, endurance and coordination. The trike will also give him an opportunity to play outside with his friends.”
Palm Coast Elks Lodge #2709 used its $2,000 Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to donate 4,500 masks to Emory Bennett VA Nursing Home. Pictured at the nursing home Sept. 18 are Calvin Tanck, therapy aide supervisor; Bill Hall, Exalter Ruler; Kathy Kight, Loyal Knight; and Rob Kronen, trustee.
On Sept. 29, a food distribution event was held at Miami Elks Lodge #948. Cornerstone Miami, a group that rents space from the lodge for Sunday services, was the main sponsor of the event. Members of the church as well as several volunteers from the lodge distributed food from Feeding South Florida of Pembroke Park, Florida, to nearly 600 families. The Miami-Dade Police Department provided assistance with traffic flow. Lodge members assisting members of Cornerstone Miami were Jennene Ricard, Dave Lopez, Barry Wake, Linda Perricone, Ignacio "Iggy" Pena, and Jeff Muehlfeld, Exalted Ruler.
Master Deputy Carmen Acevedo of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office had the opportunity to be a part of this story from both the giving and receiving end. Deputy Acevedo is a school resource officer for Waterford Elementary School in Orlando, Florida. She has also been a member of Orlando Elks Lodge for four years and volunteers when she can; she recently became her lodge’s Public Relations chair as well. Her pride in her fellow lodge members as well as her gratitude on behalf of her school prompted her to share the following story.
Each week, members Denise Johns, Kim Casey and Maria Morales set up bingo and collect food for the Waterford Elementary food pantry, toiletry stock, school supplies, shoes and bicycle helmets for families in need. Recently, the school provided food to a family from another school that lost everything when their house caught on fire. “Thanks to the donations the Elks bingo family gives, it filled our pantry to help others in need. The Orlando Elks 1079 really cares about its children and our community. They will be working closely with our school to make the holidays great. Unfortunately, there are even teachers who are struggling because they are the only person working at home. We are also not only giving to the children but even the teachers this year. I just wanted to take a moment to thank three wonderful women from Orlando Elks Lodge #1079…for their act of kindness,” reports Acevedo.
As a school resource officer (SRO), Acevedo explains that she assists “the school administration in maintaining a safe and secure environment. I also help resolve problems affecting the children and work closely with the youth/staff. When working, I value each one of these students because they are special in every way. I truly want to protect them, make them smile and guide them to become great Americans,” she notes.
On Sept. 15, Acevedo picked up five boxes of food and supplies from the lodge and delivered them to the school. On Sept. 23, Casey and Johns delivered additional food in a tightly packed SUV. Once all the food was separated by Waterford staff members Aixa Santiago and Maria Bassmaji, they arranged the pantry and continuously monitor expiration dates. Danielle Arbelaez-Willis, principal, works to keep this pantry open to help families in need while other schools have had to close their pantries.
This sworn law enforcement officer says that these three ladies are truly her heroes. That says a lot about the good work the Elks do in their communities when Elks are an officer’s heroes.
Pictured Sept. 23 are Stephanie Panas, Waterford Elementary counselor, and Orlando Elks Denise Johns, Kim Casey and Deputy Carmen Acevedo.
Orlando Elks Kim Casey and Denise Johns deliver items for Waterford Elementary’s pantry Sept. 23.
Food delivered Sept. 23 by Orlando Elks’ bingo donations
Waterford Elementary's pantry