On Sept. 23, West Citrus Lodge volunteers met for the monthly session of packaging weekend food for children. Using Florida State Elks Association matching funds from the Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant, the lodge presented the Blessings organization in Lecanto, Florida, with a check for $1,000. Blessings is a group that supplies children from all of Citrus County with food to eat on the weekends. Lodge members and Blessings personnel at the check presentation are Sandy Hendron; Jeanne Brier; Gail Bockario, assistant vice chair of Blessings; Christina Reed, executive director of blessings; Donna Hayes; Ed James; Kris Estus; Brian Estus; and Cheryl Brett.
Mandarin-St. Johns Lodge supported the Jacksonville, Florida, YMCA STEM program by donating $2,500 from its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. STEM is a program that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math in engaging hands-on activities that foster problem-solving skills with students. Approximately 20 students generally participate in the activities; however, attendance has been limited at the YMCA due to the pandemic. The donation was made earlier in the year, but lodge members were able to visit the YMCA in late July and participate in the program with the students. Pictured are Christie Easton, Lodge Secretary, with YMCA program teacher Kamaria with students learning about sundials and YMCA program teacher Sophia with students gathering items to study under microscopes.
Delray Beach Lodge donated the other half of its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant, $1,750, to the Delray Reads program. Delray Reads Day will be held Oct. 29 and will be hosted virtually. The lodge donation along with other sponsors’ donations will be used to purchase 1,600 books at $4 each that will be delivered to elementary schools so that every child in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade will receive a book to call their own. This year’s book is “Evelyn Del Ray is Moving Away.” During the day of the event, teachers will read the book to their classroom and feature local celebrity readers on social media. They will also share with the community how important a community-wide effort in children’s learning is during this pandemic. The City of Delray’s Delray Reads Day is more important than ever this year to help raise awareness of the importance of reading at an early age. This year the city will join the nation in a Leaning Loss Recovery Challenge as a call to action to acknowledge and confront the very real threat presented by the COVID-19 slide, similar to the summer slide where children lose comprehension during summer breaks. Unless something is done to stop this, the learning loss brought on by the pandemic will dramatically affect children from families that are economically challenged and become one of the lasting legacies of the pandemic. Pictured outside Delray Beach Lodge Sept. 16 for the donation presentation are Kay Johnson, Delray Reads board member; Rich Pollack, Delray Reads board member; Janet Meeks, City of Delray Beach Education Foundation; Carol Eaton, Delray Beach Lodge treasurer; and Cecil Broderick, Exalted Ruler.
Sebring Lodge donated their $2,000 Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant July 12 to the Heartland Food Bank in Sebring, Florida. The grant is awarded to lodges for members "to shine a light on issues facing all communities such as hunger.” A donation of 226 pounds of food was also given from Elks members and participants from the lodge's charity bingo. The food drive is an ongoing project as this is the second drop-off so far this summer. Pictured are Wainetta Holmes, Exalted Ruler, presenting the donation to Mary Van Hooreweghe, office manager of the Heartland Food Bank. Van Hooreweghe also unloads the food donations from the vehicle.
On July 16, Delray Beach Elks Lodge #1770 donated its $2,000 Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to CROS Ministries (Christians Reaching Out to Society, Inc.) of Delray Beach and Lake Worth, Florida, during one of CROS’s free lunch distributions at the Delray Beach Library. CROS runs eight food pantries in Palm Beach and Martin counties, and their Caring Kitchen program provides meals to anyone in need. During the coronavirus pandemic, CROS has provided meals via drive-thru setups at three locations in Delray Beach. The Elks’ donation will assist with these drive-thru programs. The Delray Beach Police Department (DBPD) takes a highly active role getting to know and help citizens in need and therefore attends the drive-thru events. They partner with CROS when they are helping those who are homeless in Delray Beach. They get to know them better and therefore can better assist them with their needs. Pictured are Jason Lorey, Caring Kitchen assistant program director; Sgt. Rachael VanNess, DBPD; Officer Damien Ferraiolo, DBPD; Carol Eaton, Lodge treasurer; Ruth Mageria, executive director of CROS Ministries; and Ariana Ciancio, service population advocate of DBPD who was handing out donated shorts during the food distribution. Not pictured is Jim Eaton, lodge trustee. Lorey is also pictured with someone picking up a meal at this event.
On July 10, the New Port Richey Police Department received 25 face shields as well as sandwiches, chips and soda from New Port Richey Elks Lodge #2284. The face shields were supplied from the drug awareness project and the meal items were provided by the Lodge. Barbara Rodgers, Exalted Ruler, and Marilee Mills, chaplain, are pictured with staff members.