On Feb. 24, members of the Largo Elks Lodge #2159 Veterans Committee delivered their 50th Welcome Home Kit to C.W. Young VAMC (also known as Bay Pines) in St. Petersburg, Florida. These kits are provided to veterans who are moving into a new residence and are in need of household items such as linens, kitchen utensils, small appliances, dishes and personal hygiene items. This program is supported by the Elks National Veterans Service Commission (ENVSC) and will reimburse up to $300 for monies spent on kit items. Pictured are Frank Jones, Assistant Chief of Voluntary Service at Bay Pines; Georgia Greene; Janet Kingsley, Exalted Ruler; Peter Lopez, lodge member and World War II veteran; Sonja Lopez, PER; Johnny Miller, Elks VAVS Representative to Bay Pines; Nate Witt, Chief of Voluntary Service at Bay Pines; and Jeanne Reinhart, PDD, Veterans Committee Chair.
On Feb. 2, members of Manasota Elks Lodge #2734 presented 1,200 to-go meal containers with lids and 1,000 sets of kitchen gloves to Bryan Jacobs, founder of Reveille Meals and Vet2Success. These items were purchased with the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. Reveille Meals is a brother company to Vets2Success, which the lodge has been partnering with for five years. Lodge members also volunteer and assist Jacobs by delivering Reveille Meals in their community. According to its Facebook page, “Reveille trains and employs veterans through our reintegration culinary programs under our nonprofit organization, Vets2Success.” Jacobs, a Marine Corps veteran, “trains veterans in the culinary arts for success in the kitchen and life.” Pictured with Jacobs are Jim Klocke, Doris Waddell, Carol Sirianni, Janice "Spike" Klocke, Ken Davis, Diane Davis, Dale Steinke and Gloria Gardner.
For patients at Bay Pines VAMC who do not have family or friends who can bring them items, donations of hygiene kits are most appreciated. St. Petersburg Elks Lodge #1224 donated $550 to the Elks hospital fund at the VAMC for toiletries for veterans who visit Elks Room 106, managed by Johnny Miller, while they are receiving care at Bay Pines. The donation was raised by the lodge’s trivia night event Feb. 6.
On Jan. 23, Bonita Springs-Estero Elks Lodge #2753 held a charity car show to benefit the Army of Hope. Along with the nine committee members, an additional 32 volunteers came out that day to help make this a successful event. There were 112 fantastic cars participating and competing for recognition. The opening ceremony was held at 11 a.m. with the Guns n Hoses Pipes n Drums. The Estero Fire Department raised the flag. Haney’s Food Truck served sandwiches and DJ Bob Picone provided the music. After all expenses were paid and with the help of the event sponsors, Reatallick Financial, The United Group, South West Refrigeration, Ron Alfonso, Dale Sayset and Don Dewey, the lodge raised $5,636.45 for the Army of Hope and $1,053 for the lodge.
Pictured are committee members Dewey Lashua, Don Dewey, Jack Coovert, John Seachrist, Pete Thompson, Shirley Thompson, Ron Alfonso, Tom Lane and Dale Sayset.
The Wreaths Across America 2020 event took place Dec. 19 with the presentation of wreaths at veterans' cemeteries. The Gainesville Lodge #990 Elk Riders along with other groups honored veterans by escorting the Wreaths Across America truck from the Walmart distribution center in Alachua, Florida, to the Forest Meadows East Cemetery in Gainesville, Florida. Pictured are Louis Mallory, Charles Britt, Dave Kaufman, Pete Hamilton, Charlotte "Charlee" Baumann-Rodgers (Bill Baumann’s granddaughter) and Bill Baumann.
Port Orange Elks Lodge #2723 combined resources with The Messengers for Homeless Vets Inc. and the Port Orange VFW to secure permanent housing for Army veteran Akeya Pullen. The lodge used $900 from its Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant. Pictured Jan. 9 with Pullen as she receives the keys to her new apartment are Lakish Morgan, friend; Jim Preston, Port Orange VFW service officer; Frank Tamberelli, PSP-NC and Jerry Peterson, PER, lodge members; and Chaz Brown, Messengers for Homeless Vets officer.
On Jan. 11, Holiday Isles Elks Lodge #1912 donated single-serve food items, men's clothing and 10 pairs of men's shoes to the Bay Pines VA. The value of the donation was $310.
Green Cove Springs Elks Lodge #1892 donated $1,000 from the Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to K9s for Warriors, an organization that trains and provides service dogs for veterans. Dr. Rick Kunze, Lodge Veterans Services Chair, presented the check Nov. 24.
During December, Lake Okeechobee Elks Lodge used nearly $1,000 of its Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to put together Christmas baskets of hams and many essential goods for local veterans in need. Recipients were located through calls to the local radio station running community service announcements and coordination with Okeechobee County Veterans Coordinator, Sarah Gilbert. Lodge members also had a list of names from previous Stand Downs. The baskets were delivered to veterans’ homes who are shut in.
On Nov. 15, Eustis Elks Lodge #1578 donated $500 from its Elks National Foundation Freedom Grant to Veterans Helping Veterans USA, an organization in Ocala, Florida, that assists with financial and social counseling. They also provide clothing and a food bank. Pictured at Veterans Helping Veterans USA are Jim Stock, Veterans Committee Chair, and Bo Borwegen, Exalted Ruler, presenting the check to Hank Whittier, Executive Director.
Early in December, Sarasota South Lodge’s Larry Hildebrand, PER and Red Malone delivered over $5,000 worth of socks, underwear and personal hygiene items to the residents at Bay Pines Hospital. Included in that delivery were 15 lap blankets donated by Britannica Knitting Club. They have been donating their lap blankets to the lodge for the veterans for over 10 years. Each lap blanket is unique and handmade by the members. Pictured are Judith Christiansen and Liz Barth, members of the lodge and the Britannica Knitting Club.
On Nov. 9, Sarasota South Elks Lodge #2495 hosted a spaghetti dinner for veterans in honor of Veterans Day. Bruce Shelly volunteered entertainment and those present got to dance to their favorite ‘60s songs. A special challenge coin was given to each of the 24 veterans in attendance. Pictured is Michael Wujcik CWO4, USN (Ret) receiving his challenge coin from James Lamb, PDD, MSGT USAF (Ret).