On April 21, DeLand Elks Lodge #1463 donated more than $700 in support to Wreaths Across America. The event included dinner for more than 50 people from the community, music and a war memorabilia presentation by veterans. The Volusia Young Marines served the meal. Members of the Young Marines are between the ages of 8 and 18. They learn the importance of self-confidence, academic achievement, honoring veterans, good citizenship, community service, and being healthy and drug-free. The organization promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members. The program focuses on character building and leadership and promotes a lifestyle that is conducive to being productive members of society.
On April 4, Nicolis Yancey moved in to his new home in Clearwater, Florida, after living on the street for more than three years. He was able to get housing, and with support from the Zephyrhills Elks Lodge Veterans Committee and the Welcome Home Kit, he was able to make his home much more comfortable.
Pictured are Yancey and lodge member Allen Turner.
Elias Granda, a Marine veteran, is the 242nd veteran to have their home furnished by the Zephyrhills Lodge Veterans Committee. He moved in to his new home in Brandon, Florida, April 5, with help from lodge members Larry Decena and Ken Fabiani, PER.
On March 31, the St. Petersburg Ladies of Elks Auxiliary (LOEA) supported local veterans with three donations. They gave $2,000 to Bay Pines VA Hospital, $1,000 to the Army of Hope in memory of Peter Lopez, and $1000 to Heaven on Earth for Veterans, an organization that builds and provides housing for veterans.
Pictured are Farrah Pileggi, LOEA Vice President; Carol Barkalow, HOEV founder and Lodge Esquire; Virginia Warfield, LOEA President; and Marlene Evans, LOEA Treasurer.
Jacksonville Elks Lodge #221 held its fourth annual military baby shower March 11 for 20 military families using the Elks National Foundation Spotlight and Gratitude grants, totaling $5,500. These funds were used to purchase gifts for the military mothers from their baby registries. More than $500 worth of diapers, wipes and other items were donated by members. Blue Star Families of Jacksonville provided books and several toys for each family. The USO, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, and Fleet and Family Support Center were in attendance to share what services they offer military families. Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services therapist Rae Montgomery shared about their services and gave each mother a copy of “Advance My Baby,” written by two FECTS therapists, to help monitor their child’s growth and development. Volunteers Carmel and Karen provided fresh fruits and pasta salad, and Brent Reedy with Cooler Bear Heat & Air provided subs from Jersey Mike's Subs. After lunch, members played games with the moms, which had great prizes, and there were raffle drawings from Blue Star Families and the USO. The lodge provided a new highchair for a door prize. Each mom chose two sets of homemade bibs and burp cloths made and donated by Francis Fowler and baby blankets made by Deborah Reedy. The moms and families were overjoyed when they went to the room with all of their gifts. One mother expecting twins cried and said that she didn’t have nearby family here and having the shower and gifts meant so much to her!
Pictured are mothers looking at blankets and bibs.
On March 3, members from Hollywood West Elks Lodge #2365 set up a petting zoo from Cherokee Farm Trades LLC at the Alexander “Sandy” Nininger State Veterans’ Nursing Home property. The veteran residents and staff enjoyed this hands-on experience.
Pictured is a collage of veterans and the petting zoo.
In February and March, Bradenton Lodge sponsored three fishing trips for veterans in the Gulf of Mexico — two inshore and one offshore. This project included more than 12 charter captains and more than 50 local veterans. More than 100 pounds of fish were caught and about 35 pounds were legally kept. The catch was taken to Slicker’s Eatery in Cortez, Florida, where Bob Slicker and his staff prepared and served the meal, including appetizers. These events were funded by the Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant and the Florida State Elks Association matching grant. The lodge has organized annual veterans’ fishing trips for more than 10 years with funds from various grant programs.
Pictured are a gathering of veterans at Slicker's Eatery and Mike Dinius, PER, project manager; Terri Dinius, volunteer server; and Bob Slicker.
South Hillsborough Elks Lodge #2672, in cooperation with Tampa Bay Channel 10 and Support the Troops, donated items such as white tube socks, toothpaste, beef jerky, gum and hard candy to members serving overseas. The nonprofit group Support the Troops packs the care packages and sends the boxes to military members serving in forward operation positions and on ships.
On Jan. 2, Kathryn Bursch of 10 Tampa Bay picked up their box filled to the top with the desired items.
Bradenton Elks Lodge #1511, in conjunction with local television NBC station WSB Channel 10, collected socks, candy, gum, toothpaste and snacks to be sent to deployed service members. This donation was made possible by an Elks National Foundation Freedom Grant of $1,000 and $151 from the lodge charity account.
Pictured Jan. 12 with a sample of items packaged for shipment are Elsha Douquet, Exalted Ruler, and Liz Andricks, PER, lodge grant coordinator.
Brooksville Elks Lodge #2582 utilized its Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant by assembling hygiene bags for veterans experiencing homelessness. On Feb. 24, lodge members delivered the bags to the local VFW to distribute to the veterans.
Pictured are members Sherry Mackeil, Treasurer; Deborah Ashness; Sue Shariff; Nora Hughson, trustee; Richard Griffiths, trustee; and Cindy Griffiths, House Comm Chair.
On March 20, Fort Walton Elks Lodge #1795 made a $500 donation to the Army of Hope with funds raised by the raffle of a backet that Jamie Clemons, Lodge Secretary, put together with donated items. The Northwest District has a large population of active duty military members and veterans as neighbors in each community.
Pictured are the cooler and items in the raffle.
St. Augustine Lodge #829 members Randy Cook, PER and Dianne Cook provide ongoing support to the veterans at Clyde E. Lassen Veterans Nursing Home by visiting with residents on the first Monday of each month. They bring a birthday cake and balloons every month to celebrate with the residents, and often they include cards or buttons made for the veterans by students at R.B. Hunt Elementary School. On Jan. 17, they delivered a large-screen television donated on behalf of the lodge.
Randy and Dianne Cook are pictured with three veterans. Also pictured are a monthly cake, buttons and a card made by a student.
On Feb. 25, Green Cove Springs Elks Lodge members and volunteers delivered games, puzzle books, cards, puzzles, stationery, stamps and pens to residents at Clyde Lassen Veterans Nursing Home. These items were purchased using the Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant, and the remaining funds were donated to the nursing home.
Pictured are Rick Kunze, PER; Rajimi Alicia, Lassen Home activities office; Gene Rittenhouse, PDD; Linda Rittenhouse, PSP-FLOE; Teresa Lewis, U.S. Army veteran and Lassen resident; Elinore Williams, lodge volunteer; Wendy Hughson, member; Kathy Hughson, lodge volunteer; Penny Kunze, member; Greg Hughson Jr., member; Izzy Hughson, lodge volunteer; and Greg Hughson, PDD. Also pictured are Cattibell Rodriguez, Lassen Home business office; Rick Kunze, PER; and Al Williams, Exalted Ruler.