Tampa Elks Lodge #708 provided a welcome-home kit for formerly homeless veteran Mike Sexton who signed a lease on a trailer after spending a year in James Haley Veterans Hospital and six months at the domiciliary following a traumatic brain injury.
Punta Gorda Elks Lodge #2606 was instrumental in supporting the Punta Gorda veterans parade held Nov. 3 with the lodge’s Elkettes winning second place for their float which emphasized drug awareness.
Exalted Ruler Walter LaCombe presents a plaque to Korean War veteran George Hart Jr. as his son, George Hart III, drives the car.
PER Charlotte Burrie (pictured), PER Marilyn Kronenberg and member Jennie Howitt of Pompano Beach Elks Lodge #1898 prepared over 40 personal bags and hygiene kits for female veterans at the VA clinic in Broward County.
On Nov. 19, Delray Beach Lodge Veterans chairman, Doug England, presented 100 Walmart gift cards at the PER Association meeting for the female veterans of Broward County. This donation totaled $1,000. On Nov. 20, these gift cards were presented to Michelle Zielenski of the VA women’s unit located at the Bill Kling Clinic.
Oakland Park and Pompano Beach lodges held a joint Veterans Day brunch for veterans free of charge followed by a veterans memorial service honoring all who served in the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines and Air Force and POWs.
On Nov. 11, Miami Elks Lodge #948 and South Miami/Coral Gables Elks Lodge #1676 hosted a Veterans Day community picnic to raise funds for area veterans and the Florida State Elks Association Army of Hope. More than 100 guests attended. Volunteers from both lodges planned, prepared, recruited entertainers, and cooked and served hamburgers and hot dogs, macaroni salad, cole slaw, chips, and soft drinks. Other members collected donations, made presentations and provided demonstrations. A missing-man table was on display. Boy Scout Troop 362 acted as honor guard. Attendees were entertained with tai chi and yoga lessons, line dancing lessons, a fencing demonstration, magic shows and continuous music. They also learned how to apply a tourniquet and basic CPR courtesy of Florida International University under the direction of Dr. Jefry Biehler. The Coast Guard Auxiliary was also on hand as well as Century 21 representative Mariela Pritikin who talked about their veterans’ and first responders’ mortgage incentive program. There was also a soccer crossbar challenge and a frisbee toss contest courtesy of Bird Road Subaru. The South Florida Jewelry Guild provided demonstrations on various jewelry-making techniques. The event raised more than $2,000 for veterans programs.
On Dec. 11, Green Cove Springs Lodge held a Christmas luncheon for veterans. The luncheon began with a short program which included a special presentation on how K9s for Warriors matches service dogs with veterans who need one. Then the K9s for Warriors volunteer coordinator, Elizabeth Reeger, was presented with a check for $2,000 which was made possible by an Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant. The presentation was followed by a roasted turkey lunch with sides and homemade desserts. Member Jean Maddox coordinated the meal and started cooking turkeys at 3:45 a.m. Her 15 volunteers served 91 people including 64 veterans. Member Dorothy Wood coordinated the dozens of homemade desserts for the event.
K9s for Warriors volunteer coordinator, Elizabeth Reeger, receives $2,000 Green Cove Springs Lodge presented by Veterans Representative, PER Richard Kunze, and grant coordinator, PER Gene Rittenhouse.
Green Cove Springs Elks Lodge #1892 raised $6,000 throughout the year which came from fundraisers including their Christmas-in-July dock party. The lodge’s PER charity bingo donated $1,000, making the lodge the largest donor in Florida.
Wreaths Across America representatives A.J. and Mike Smith accept a $7,000 donation from Green Cove Springs Lodge presented by Exalted Ruler, Lucie Barnette; Amien Joseph, PER; and Rick Kunze, PER, VAVS representative.
The West Central District Army of Hope fundraiser which included a Chinese auction and games was held at Largo Lodge Oct. 21. The Army of Hope’s mission is to provide assistance to the families of deceased, disabled and deployed members of the military. Volunteers and scouts turned out in droves and eight district lodges participated. Among the attendees were Frank Palladini, PSP; Carl Seibert, COO/State Secretary; Theresa Matthews, DDGER; Anthony Fratello, DVP; and Ron Locke, Army of Hope State Chairman.
Largo Elks Lodge #2159 received the Elks National Foundation Freedom Grant to paint the interior of Liberty Manor, a home for veterans in Largo, Fla. Members of the lodge Veterans Committee took the lead on this project that took four 10-hour days, Oct. 29 through Nov. 1, to complete. The second part of the grant will be used to construct/purchase and set up a yard storage shed in the back yard to protect their bikes, etc.
David Lindsay, PDD Jeanne Reinhart, Bob Beach, Ed Cabana, JeMarcus Sapp and Connie Lindsay were part of the paint team.
On Oct. 20, Gainesville Elks Lodge #990 partnered with the Gainesville Garden Club and the Gold Star Mothers of Gainesville to provide a Gold Star memorial marker at the entrance of the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center. The Gold Star memorial marker came from the custom of families of servicemen hanging a banner called a service flag in the window of their homes. The service flag had a star for each family member in the United Stated Armed Forces. Living servicemen were represented by a blue star and those who had lost their lives were represented by a gold star. The marker was placed for the Gainesville-area service men and women who paid such a price. Gainesville Lodge helped support the marker placement by donating $500.
On Dec. 15, the rain fell at Bay Pines National Cemetery in St. Petersburg, Fla., as hundreds of volunteers took part in the annual holiday wreath-laying tribute to those who served and died in America’s wars known as Wreaths Across America. Volunteers filtered quietly through the cemetery to place a handcrafted balsam wreath with a red velvet bow atop the tombstones of veterans. St. Petersburg Lodge Esquire, retired Army Colonel Carol Barkalow, participated in the day’s ceremonies and had the honor of laying the ceremonial wreath for the Army.