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Rachael King
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Florida State Elks Association Inc.
P.O. Box 49
Umatilla, FL 32784-0049

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A group called the Happy Hookers crocheted lap blankets and donated them to the Zephyrhills Lodge Veterans Committee. On March 14, Ken Fabiani, PER, Veterans Chair and an amputee and Vietnam veteran, delivered the blankets to veterans who had just had amputation surgery at James A. Haley Veterans Hospital. Each blanket has a special note for the veterans.


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The Palm Coast Elks Lodge Veterans Committee held a gun raffle fundraiser Feb. 11 after all tickets were sold and additional donations were collected. More than $6,000 was raised for local programs supporting veterans who are disabled, have PTSD or are experiencing homelessness, as well as for the lodge’s veteran information program. Members as well as members of the community and businesses sold and purchased raffle tickets.

Pictured are lodge members Sean Reardon; Bob Williams, Exalted Ruler; Bill Hall, PER; Brad Lake; David Valinski; Jerry DiMenna, Chair; and Rob Kronen.


2753 fash

Bonita Springs-Estero Lodge hosted a charity fashion show Feb. 17 to benefit the Collier-Lee Veterans Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. Eight lady Elks modeled the fashions from Back of the Bay fashions. Fourteen male Elks volunteered to give out gift baskets, serve the 183 ladies who attended, and clean up after the event. The event raised $3,325 for the Honor Flight, which flies veterans to Washington, D.C., to see their war monuments.

Pictured are Shirley Thompson, member; Bob Reffitt, Honor Flight member; and Rufus Morris-Ellington, Exalted Ruler.


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On Feb. 23, Fort Pierce Elks Lodge #1520 members donated $245 in snacks to the Ardie R. Copas Veterans Nursing Home. 

Pictured are Rod Dally, Veterans Chair; Sherika Akers, therapy aid supervisor and activities director; and Jim Wallace, member.


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Jacksonville Lodge held its first Veteran Health and Wellness Fair Feb. 17, using the Elks National Veterans Service Commission Freedom Grant. Seven organizations were present to share information about how they can help veterans obtain benefits. The lodge supplied goody bags for 142 veterans, both to those in attendance and those who could not attend but were given a bag by a veterans organization.

The bags, pictured, included personal hygiene items such as an oral thermometer, travel manicure and first aid set, toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, hand sanitizer, and healthy snacks.


1529 vet

On Feb. 8, Sebring Lodge’s Veterans Committee held its first meet-and-greet at the lodge for local veterans. The purpose was to have a social atmosphere for veterans to enjoy, along with vital information to be shared from the Highlands County Veterans Services Office about the help veterans can get from the VA and the lodge. In attendance were Denise Williams, county veterans service officer, and Glenn West, Highlands Veterans Council president (pictured speaking with a veteran).  


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On Feb. 3, Tampa Lodge’s Veterans Committee hosted eight veterans from New Beginnings of Tampa, a temporary housing and rehab center that reserves 30 beds for veterans. They were invited for a 1970s-themed dinner and party with live music. Veterans Committee member Evelyn Hemingway led them in a conga. The gentlemen stayed on the dance floor and had a great time. José Rémon, Veterans Chair, also presented a donation of $500 to New Beginnings.

Pictured are the veterans and Veterans Committee members.


2753 car

On Jan. 20, Bonita Springs-Estero Elks Lodge #2753 hosted its fourth annual charity car show to benefit the Army of Hope. The lodge provided free coffee and doughnuts, sold T-shirts, and held a chance auction and two 50/50 drawings. The flag-raising ceremony was hosted by the Estero Fire Dept. Guns-N-Hoses and Pipes-N-Drums marching band (pictured). There were 32 lodge members who worked the event. Funds raised included $5,542.50 for the Army of Hope as well as $1,000 for Veterans Services and $2,521 for the lodge.


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Jacksonville Lodge assisted its first female veteran with a Welcome Home Kit Jan. 19 to help her in her new home. She had graduated from the Northeast Florida Women Veterans program in 2023 and had moved into an apartment but then experienced a fire in October, which destroyed the building she had been living in. She was not home at the time but she lost everything and once again had to move into the women veterans shelter. For her new home, lodge members delivered the household items she requested, as well as a living room chair with ottoman, recliner, bed, TV stand, nightstands and lamps. She was also the first recipient of patriotic quilts, which were donated by a local group called Comfort n' Quilter. They donate quilts to charitable organizations.

Pictured are Donnie Rowand, House Committee Chair, with John Pipkins, trustee, and Karen Tracy, Veterans Services Chair. Also pictured are the veteran’s bedroom and living room after she organized those rooms.


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On Jan. 30, five members of Bonita Springs-Estero Elks Lodge #2753 went to Douglas T. Jacobson State Veterans’ Nursing Home to entertain the veterans. They held karaoke, told jokes and visited with them. They also brought them blankets, pajamas, socks, personal hygiene items, 200 toothbrushes, 1,000 disposable razors and three cases of crossword books, valued at $1,000, all donated by lodge members.

Pictured are members Debra Boucher, Dennis Walker, Phyllis Steelsmith and Phil Boucher.


1529 van

Sebring Elks Lodge Veterans Chair, Brenda Walton, was contacted by Highlands County Veterans Association, requesting the help of the Florida Elks Army of Hope for an honorably discharged veteran in need of assistance. Fred Dubowsky has a wife who is disabled and a son who is also disabled and receiving Supplemental Security Income. The family’s 2012 van, which they have had for 10 years and which they had converted to enable his son to travel, became undrivable and needed more than $3,000 of repairs. on Jan. 27, the Army of Hope provided the funds needed for the family to have the van repaired at a local shop.

Pictured are Fred Dubowsky and Brenda Walton in front of his van.



On the evening of Jan. 18, Johnny Miller, VAVS representative, held a bowling event at Seminole Lanes in Seminole with 14 veterans from the C.W. Bill Young VAMC at Bay Pines. They really enjoyed bowling and pizza. Miller used $320 from his ENVSC funds.