On Jan. 21, veterans from the James A. Haley Domiciliary were scheduled to attend dinner at Tampa Elks Lodge #708 for the first time in almost two years. When the Omicron variant surged, the VA reinstated the quarantine, and the dinner was canceled. Rather than give up, the lodge Veterans Committee voted to provide the veterans with a pizza party as a welcome break from hospital food. Blackjack Pizza, salad and soft drinks for 18 were delivered for the veterans.
Pictured are Ryan Nitzsche, recreation director, and José Ramon, Lodge Veterans Chair.
Pictured Jan. 4 at Largo Elks Lodge #2159 are Kathryn Bursch from local news channel 10 Tampa Bay and Kathy Pollard, lodge member, with the lodge’s donations for 10 for the Troops. The lodge collected socks, candy, gum and other similar items for military members, 115 items in all.
With member donations, West Palm Beach Elks Lodge #1352 donated a $25 canteen booklet to all 90 live-in patients at the Palm Beach County Veterans Hospital Dec. 21 for the holidays.
Pictured are Mary Sassone, lodge member, presenting the gifts to Heather Murphy, chief of volunteer services.
On Dec. 10, Irene Smith and Cheryl Gumz of Lake Okeechobee Elks Lodge #2871 passed out snack packs to the veterans at the West Palm Beach VAMC.
In early December, Kristen Francks, co-chair of Lakeland Lodge’s Veterans Committee, presented $4,000 in Walmart and Publix gift cards donated by members to Mark Martin, Lakeland Veteran Center Director. The center will distribute them to their veterans in the most need.
On Nov. 18, Perry Elks Lodge #1851 used lodge funds and member donations to give Thanksgiving bags full of food donations to local veterans’ families.
Pictured with the donations is Clayton Huff, Exalted Ruler.
Fort Walton Elks Lodge #1795 purchased 10 wreaths for the Wreaths Across America program, but they also helped a large team of volunteers lay wreaths at 1,254 veterans’ graves at Beale Memorial Cemetery in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Dec. 18. This was the second annual event held in Fort Walton Beach and it was heavily supported by many community groups. The presentation of the wreath is a special procedure. After laying a wreath on a veteran’s grave, the volunteer will take one step back, come to attention, present a slow-hand salute, mention the veteran’s rank and branch of service (if known), and thank the veteran for his or her service.
Pictured are Taz WrightReynolds, PER, Exalted Ruler; Kevin Clemons, PDD, Northwest District Leader; Rob Parks, member; Tom McLaughlin, Loyal Knight; Colette Willey, member; Mark Wynn, Inner Guard; Marcie Tingler, trustee; and Paul Willey, PER.
Also pictured is Tom McLaughlin giving a slow-hand salute to a veteran.
On Dec. 16 at St. Petersburg Elks Lodge #1224, the Ladies of Elks Auxiliary presented a check to the Bay Pines Elks Hospital Fund for $4,035. The donation was from the proceeds from the Nov. 6 USA Show put on by lodge members and Ladies members of the lodge. It was a sold-out event chaired by Dolly Masi, PER to raise funds for the Florida Elks Hospital Fund to replenish needed clothing and toiletries at the Bay Pines VA.
Pictured are Rudy Masi, PSP; Jan Giallourakis, Ladies of Elks President; Dolly Masi, PER, USA Show chair; Frank Jones, Bay Pines VA Director of Volunteer Services; Jan Gens; and Johnny Miller, Elks VAVS Representative.
On Dec. 9, Eustis Elks Lodge #1578 held a Christmas party at Fort McCoy VFW Retirement Home for the veterans. Funds from the Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant provided lunch, and funds from the lodge charity account provided $50 gift cards for each veteran. Gift bags with a lap blanket and treats were donated by lodge members. Ron Locke, PDD, Exalted Ruler, and Santa (Terry Jones) were in attendance and Santa’s helpers were on hand to provide Christmas songs and dances.
Pictured are Darla Orr, Sally Dupuis, Kathy Lampe, Dee Olver, Peggy Schnichels, Sue Summerall and Yevet Anderson.
On Nov. 13, Jacksonville Lodge donated $1,000 to the Vietnam Veterans, Duval County Chapter. Pictured are Jack Ward, PER; Robin Pipkins, lodge member; and Anthony D’Aleo, chapter president.
On Nov. 11, Florida Keys Elks Lodge #1872 held a Veterans Day ceremony led by Angela Sayre, Exalted Ruler. Boy Scout Troop 912 performed a flag exchange ceremony and presented the colors. Veteran lodge members volunteered to represent the branches of the military.
Pictured are Chris Rigano, Angela Sayre, Lynne Kibbey, Deana Medina, Larry Barr and Vicki Gassaway, all veterans and lodge members.
Viera Elks Lodge #2817 continued their support of local veterans at the end of 2021 by providing $900 worth of furniture to six veterans transitioning to permanent housing. The funds were provided by the Elks National Veterans Service Commission Focus Grant. The program is Volunteers of America/Supportive Services for Veterans Families (VOA/SSVF).