On Dec. 5, Zephyrhills Lodge furnished their 23rd veteran’s new home. Herbert Jennings greeted the Elks with open arms surprised to see everything they had for his home – a sofa bed, bath and dish towels, coffee maker and coffee, dishes, pots and pans, personal hygiene items, dish set, silverware, cups and glasses, and a laptop for him to advance his education. For the holiday spirit, the elks also donated Christmas cookies and more coffee which had him smiling. Pictured with Jennings is PER Ken Fabiani.
Viera Elks Lodge #2817 continued their support of Operation Shoe Box, an organization whose goal is to provide practical support to American troops deployed overseas and returning home by providing care packages and letters of encouragement as well as supplies for veterans who are homeless. On Dec. 13, the annual Soups, Stews & Chowders Competition raised $182 for the organization.
Port Orange Lodge received an Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant for meeting the national president’s per-member goal for donations to the Elks National Foundation and can be used to serve veterans and military members in need and can be applied to address health issues. The lodge purchased iPad Pro tablets and presented them to Emory L. Bennett Veterans’ Nursing Home of Florida Dec. 16. Pictured are Frank Tamberelli, lodge member; Victoria Chandler, Emory Bennett therapy aid supervisor; and Jerry Peterson, VAVS Representative.
On Nov. 24, Merritt Island Elks Lodge #2650 held its annual veterans Thanksgiving dinner and hosted 25 veterans and 23 children from the Veterans Transitional Facility in Melbourne, Fla. All veterans were provided with clothing and gift cards and the children received gifts that were on their wish list.
On Nov. 8, Gainesville Elks Lodge #990, with the use of their Elks National Foundation Freedom Grant, held a shopping day for veterans as an appreciation program. Eighteen veterans who were transitioning from homelessness to independent living were invited to the lodge for a luncheon and a shopping experience. Veterans were given play money to shop for essential items they needed in establishing their residences. Items available were on display with retail prices noted. Elks were on hand to help veterans shop and pay the cashier and to transport veterans and their purchases back to their residences. Items available included toaster ovens, coffee makers, pots and pans, dishes, glassware, kitchen utensils and silverware, vacuums, lamps, rugs, and a wide variety of others items. Each veteran was given a laundry basket filled with towels, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels and other items.
On the porch with his goodies is veteran Peter Tallman.
Using their Elks National Foundation Freedom Grant, Inverness Elks Lodge #2522 hosted 17 American veterans who are disabled, 10 of whom are members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, on a daylong fishing trip. Many stories were told and a lot of friendships were made. Some awards and prizes were handed out and everyone thanked the Elks for hosting the event. One veteran said, "If this is the kind of thing Elks do, then I may become a member.” There were a number of lodge members who performed admirably in the background getting the breakfast, lunch, drinks and prizes in order prior to the event. The lodge also provided fishing shirts to the veterans in large part due to the generosity of some members of the local business community.
On Nov. 20, Venice-Nokomis Elks Lodge #1854 hosted 45 veterans for lunch using their Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant. The veterans were invited from local assisted living facility Ashton Gardens. Pictured is 103-year-old veteran Mr. Vogel with his wife. The lodge also delivered $500 in comfort pack items Dec. 12 to the VA Medical Center Nursing Home using the same grant.
In honor of Veterans Day, the Southwest District held their annual picnic Nov. 10 at Bay Pines Medical Center. A picnic lunch of hot dogs, hamburgers, barbecue chicken, potato salad, baked beans, coleslaw, watermelon and chocolate cookies was served to 156 veterans and their families. Jim & Steve Pops to Polkas donated their time to entertain everyone. Once again it was a huge success with all seven lodges of the district represented to honor the veterans.
On Nov. 11, Sarasota South Elks Lodge #2495 held a veterans’ appreciation dinner. There were 82 veterans in attendance with their family and guests, and 149 spaghetti dinners were served. Each veteran received a challenge coin representing the branch of service in which they served. The evening had three guest speakers – retired Army Col Ben Knisley; Army Chief Warrant Officer (CWO3) Todd Slaughter, whose family was assisted through the Army of Hope; and USN 1st Lt. Bernard Friedland, the oldest veteran in the room at 92. Friedland began serving in World War II when he was 17 years old as a USN Seaman 3rd Class crossing the English Channel in an attack transport during the invasion of Europe. He later served in the Korean War and was one of the last standing executive officers of a MASH unit. Twelve years later he put his uniform back on and served in the Vietnam War. He spoke about what the world was like then and what it is like now. His powerful message was that we have to take time to teach children the history of America that is not being taught in schools. He reminded the attendees that today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders and that parents, grandparents and great-grandparents need to take the time now to teach them what it took to keep America free. They need to reinforce respect for our country, veterans and the leaders of this nation.
Sarasota South Lodge Exalted Ruler, Richard Bouchard, is pictured with 1st Lt. Bernard Friedland, retired Col. Ben Knisley and CWO3 Todd Slaughter.
The seventh annual Live Oak Elks Lodge #1165 and Garrison Farms salute to veterans event was held Nov. 11 at the lodge. All veterans and active duty military members and family members were invited to a free meal of smoked chicken, baked beans, coleslaw, bread and a drink. The event fed 230 veterans from all conflicts ranging from World War II to the current War on Terror. Everything was donated for the event, leaving the lodge without any expenses.
On Nov. 3, Tom Hudson was in shock when Zephyrhills Elks showed up at his door to help furnish his home. He is the 15th veteran helped by the lodge. Hudson received all he needs to get started in his new place from a coffee pot and coffee to a recliner that he fell asleep in the first night. Lodge members Tom Pete, Dave Crotty and PER Ken Fabiani helped in this endeavor.
On Oct. 25, Raymond McDilda is the 17th veteran whose home has been furnished by Zephyrhills Lodge. He was so surprised with all the furnishings they delivered – love seat, chair, pots and pans, dish set, cups, glasses, silverware, microwave, shower rod and curtains, cooking utensils, end tables, lamps, nightstand, clock, linens, and towels – all but a bed. PER Ken Fabiani told McDilda that as soon as he had a bed for him, they’d deliver it. As Fabiani, Tom Pete and Dave Crotty drove home from Tampa, Fabiani received a call about an available bed. After dropping off Pete and Crotty, he drove to Southport Springs to pick up a bed and frame plus a pillow, sheets and blankets. Soon thereafter, McDilda received his bed with a big smile on his face while thanking the Elks for all they had done.
On Nov. 17, Mike Hanley was wide awake after his time on the bus at 5:30 a.m. to arrive at his new home in Zephyrhills, Fla. He is Zephyrhills Lodge’s 18th veteran to receive furnishings for his new home. Hanley could not believe all the furnishings that Dave Crotty and PER Ken Fabiani delivered: coffee, coffee maker, pots, pans, crock pot, utensils, bowls, dishes, pillow sheets and blankets, personal hygiene items, storage containers, shower rod, shower curtains and hooks, lamps, and end table.
Mike Hanley paid it forward by assisting Tom Pete and Ken Fabiani deliver furnishings to Zephyrhills Lodge’s 19th veteran, Greg Dorset, Nov. 18. Dorset received clothes, kitchen and bath towels, pots, pans, microwave, dining table with two chairs, two bar stools, sheets, blankets, dishes, silverware, lamps, two recliners, and coffee maker and coffee.
Early on Nov. 19, Bob Lewis became the 20th veteran whose home was furnished by Zephyrhills Lodge. Dave Crotty and Mike Hanley made the delivery. Lewis was so surprised when he saw the sofa, chair, dining table and two chairs, pots, pans, dishes, towels, lamps, two end tables, coffee maker, shower curtain and hooks, kitchen utensils, pillows, blankets, shirts, pants, and a kitchen storage container set. He had a smile from ear to ear and was so thankful for what the elks have done for him.
David Clark is the 21st veteran to move into his new home with the support from Zephyrhills Lodge. He received a sofa, recliner, two end tables, two lamps, a full-size bed with sheets and blanket, coffee maker, coffee, microwave, pots, pans, 32’’ flat-screen TV, shower rod, shower hooks, shower curtain, laundry detergent, fabric softener, dining table, two chairs, bath towels, kitchen towels, dishes, silverware, and kitchen utensils. Members Tom Pete, Steve Czerneski and PER Ken Fabiani delivered these gifts.
Brian Cade is the 22nd veteran whose home was furnished with help from Zephyrhills Lodge. These items included a dining table, two chairs, two large recliners, a queen-size bed, end tables, shower rod, shower curtains, shower hooks, pots, pans, plates, silverware, kitchen utensils, bed sheets, pillow, lamps, coffee maker, coffee, and kitchen containers.
On Nov. 15, Holley-Navarre Lodge presented a check for $1,200 to Food for Vets whose mission is to provide food and essentials to veterans and military members in need of assistance. The lodge raised the money primarily from their Friday night charity bingo game. Food for Vets recently moved from Navarre, Fla., to Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
Food for Vets representative, Samantha Peace, is presented a check for $1,200 from Holley-Navarre Lodge board president, Ben Gray.