From Oct. 15 to Oct. 30, Venice-Nokomis Elks Lodge #1854 participated in the Clear your Stash project of California. Knitters made hats and scarves for active-duty military members. On Nov. 11, the lodge presented Sherpa blankets to veterans. Between Nov. 15 and Nov. 23, the lodge collected items for active-duty military members in South Korea such as puzzles, candy and books. During December, they collected items such as candy, jerky, socks and hats for other overseas troops.
Through Nov. 17, South Hillsborough Elks Lodge #2672 raised $1,680 for Wreaths Across America. This allowed the organization to place 112 wreaths at veterans’ gravesites at Bay Pines and Sarasota national cemeteries.
For the fourth consecutive year, Manasota Elks Lodge #2734 prepared and served Thanksgiving dinner Nov. 25 at Veterans Village in Bradenton, Florida. The lodge served 30 people with four turkeys and side dishes. Veterans Village temporarily houses veterans who are homeless with addiction or mental health issues. The staff works with the veterans to provide access to counseling, education and a place to live until they can become self-sufficient. Pictured is lodge member Karen Potter.
Sebring Lodge held its annual Christmas luncheon Nov. 15 for 25 veterans who are residents at three local nursing homes —The Pines, Sunny Hills and The Palms. Santa Claus (Patrick Sullivan who is not a member) presented each guest with a gift and card purchased by the lodge. After the meal, each veteran who chose to was given the chance to speak about his or her participation in the service. Pictured are Santa giving a gift to a veteran and another veteran speaking about his time in the service.
Warrington Lodge members volunteered to prepare hamburgers and hot dogs and to stuff goody bags for veterans in attendance at the Veterans Stand Down held Oct. 22 in the west Pensacola-Brownsville area of northwest Florida. The lodge used its $2,000 Elks National Foundation Promise Grant to purchase the food as well as the snacks and personal hygiene kits for the bags. The event served more than 300 veterans. This is an annual event and the whole community comes together to ensure its success.
On Sept. 29, more than $4,000 from Zephyrhills Lodge’s Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant and Florida State Elks Association matching funds were donated to the following sections of James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, Florida — Women's Veterans, Caregiver Support, Oncology and Veteran Centers. Pictured are Paul Nutting, PER, Exalted Ruler; Shirley Crawford, Inner Guard; Judy Osgood, Lodge Elks National Foundation Fundraising Chair; Michael Evans, Director of Tampa Veterans Centers; Angela Reinhardt, administrative assistant; and Ken Fabiani, PER, Lodge Veterans Chair.
At the end of September, Zephyrhills Lodge used $1,415.55 from its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant and $1,415.55 from the Florida State Elks Association matching funds to purchase items for the Domiciliary at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, Florida, including five Samsung Chrome laptops, four 4 Black and Decker irons, 50 collapsible laundry bags and 50 $10 Walmart gift cards. Also, because the veterans own bicycles rather than vehicles for transportation, they were given 10 automatic-opening umbrellas, 10 ponchos and 10 bicycle locks. Pictured are Roy Leonard, RN; Shorley Crawford, Inner Guard; Paul Nutting, PER, Exalted Ruler; Ryan Nitzsche, recreation therapy; Judy Osgood, Lodge Elks National Foundation Fundraising Chair; Ken Fabiani, PER, Lodge Veterans Chair; and Mark Ruiz, M.D.
On Nov. 12, Lakeland Lodge held a fundraiser that turned out to be the lodge’s most successful fundraiser for veterans, raising $22,117. There were 130 meals served of barbecue ribs, sides and dessert. Along with the meals, funds were also raised with raffle baskets, auction items, and member and corporate donations. This fundraiser makes it possible for the lodge to continue their work as Elks to assist and support veterans, doing such things as inviting veterans and support staff to monthly dinners, like they did Dec. 8 for the first time since the pandemic; donating items and sending cards to patients James. A. Haley Veterans Hospital; and more.
On Oct. 24, Lakeland Lodge provided meal from Mission BBQ to a few patients at James A. Haley Veterans. Hospital. While this seems like a small token, the recreational therapy leader, Kathryn Bryant, thanked them, saying, “…thanks again for sponsoring our ‘in’ house Polytrauma (PREP) patients with a special treat to Mission BB-que. They are not able to have visitors or passes at this time, and to be treated in such a manner links them not only to the community, Elks and your mission, but fills their souls with warmth and cheer.” The veterans sent a thank-you card with messages thanking them for their generosity, for remembering them and for giving them an option other than hospital food.
On Thanksgiving, members of Pompano Beach Elks Lodge #1898 served 450 dinners at St. Elizabeth of Hungary parish.
Pictured are Nee Cee Anderson; Bud Legere, Exalted Ruler; Frank Sellers, PDD; Teresa Orr; Charlotte Burrie, PDD; Sandy Legere; and Joe Mahoney.
On Nov.11, Hollywood West Elks Lodge’s George Caffrey, Veterans Committee Chair, and Shelley Sarros, Loyal Knight, attended Veterans Appreciation Day at Sandy Nininger Nursing Home in Pembroke Pines, Florida. The outside event was open to the public and was held to show appreciation to the staff and volunteers who work at the home. Pictured with residents are Caffrey, left, and Sarros, second from left.
Led by Lodge Veterans Chair, Paul Colicci Jr., Englewood Lodge donated an additional 50 handmade blankets this quarter as well as more than 20 bags of clothing and toiletries to the Charlotte County Homeless Coalition to be given to the homeless veterans they assist.
Members of Englewood Lodge donated 235 shoeboxes filled with Christmas gifts, which included books, games, toiletries, tabletop Christmas decorations, socks and writing materials. These were delivered Dec. 5 to veterans in six assisted living facilities and nursing homes in Englewood, Venice, North Port and Port Charlotte.