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.
On Nov. 13, Jacksonville Elks Lodge #221 donated $1,000 to the Vietnam Veterans Duval County Chapter in Jacksonville, Florida. The donation was made from lodge funds. Pictured are Jack Ward, PER; Robin Pipkins, Lecturing Knight and Elks National Foundation Fundraising Chair; and Anthony D’Aleo, chapter president, who accepted the donation.
On Nov. 19, Englewood Elks Lodge #2378 was able to resume their veterans luncheons after a long pause due to the pandemic. Seventy-two veterans from assisted living facilities and nursing homes in Englewood, Venice and North Port were transported to the lodge for a turkey dinner with lots of side dishes.
Tampa Lodge supported the Poppy program of the American Legion Auxiliary of South Dale Mabry Unit 139. The American Legion Auxiliary's Poppy Fund donations are used exclusively for projects to benefit veterans or active-duty military members and their families. Tampa Lodge’s Shelagh Gombarcik, PER worked with the Legion Auxiliary’s Poppy Chair to raise funds. Individual Elks donated $300, the Tampa Ladies of the Elks donated $50 and Tampa Lodge donated $250 from their charity funds. The check was presented during the Poppy report at the Nov. 23 meeting of the legion auxiliary. Pictured are Shelagh Gombarcik, PER; Pat Pastore, Unit 139 Auxiliary Poppy Chair; and Dee Wilson, Unit 139 Auxiliary President.
On Nov. 6, Pensacola Beach Elks Lodge #497 presented a check for $3,000 for the Army of Hope at the Fort Walton Elks Lodge. The Army of Hope is a program of the Florida State Elks that helps military families that need financial assistance. Pictured are board members Paul Ross and Darrell Gossett; Dan Smith, Exalted Ruler; and Kevin Clemons, PDD, District Leader. Accepting the check is State President Suzi Simonelli.
Once again, Stuart-Jensen Elks Lodge members marched in the annual Stuart Veterans Day parade Nov. 11. AJ Hurd, lodge treasurer and parade coordinator, invited the lodge’s scouting units to march with them as well. This year, the lodge’s Veteran of the Year, Robert "Bob" Alphonse, Leading Knight, joined them, too. He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Though not driving in the parade, Suzi Simonelli had the State President's van in the area, which always turns heads. Pictured are lodge members and scouts with their parade banner. Also pictured are Suzi Simonelli, State President, with Robert Alphonse.
On Nov. 12, Port Orange Lodge members honored the veterans and staff members of Emory L. Bennett Veterans Nursing Home in Daytona Beach, Florida, by delivering approximately 170 barbecue meals. The Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant was used to finance this event, totaling $2,155.18. Pictured are Frank Kuczkowski, PER; Richard Gray; Rani Gray; Danny Mowbray, PER; Michelle Greci; Amelia Cowan, Deputy Director of the home; Gerald Peterson, Exalted Ruler and Veterans District Chair; Debi Nordgren; Gary Kilpatrick, home administrator; and Elaine Kuczkowski.
Port Orange Elks Lodge #2723 was invited to participate in the Ponce Inlet Veterans Memorial Service Nov. 11. The lodge was instrumental in the construction of this monument 10 years ago. Picture are members Mary Edgar, Michelle Greci and Elaine Kuczkowski who represented the lodge in placing a wreath.