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Florida Elks News Online

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District Reporter: Brian Estus

West Citrus Elks Deliver Gifts for Children at The Centers

West Citrus Center Gifts pic

On Dec. 20, members of West Citrus Elks Lodge delivered 60 wrapped gifts and four donated bicycles to be distributed to children of The Centers of Citrus and Marion counties. Pictured are Karla Cefalo; Tony Schiappa, Exalted Ruler; Druzele Brown-Brann, The Centers Children’s Case Manager; and NeNe Schiappa, West Citrus Elks Children’s Christmas Program Coordinator. Laura Petersen, Theresa Jancura and Linda Zakszeski from the West Citrus Elks Ladies of the Elks shopped for the gifts and the gifts were wrapped by the Ladies of the Elks.


West Citrus Elks Deliver Gifts to Elementary School


On Dec 18, West Citrus Elks Lodge #2693 delivered wrapped gifts along with Publix gift cards to Homosassa Elementary School. These gifts were given to five disadvantaged families to brighten their Christmas.

Pictured are Debra Harmon, Homosassa Elementary School Guidance Counselor; Tony Schiappa, West Citrus Elks Exalted Ruler; NeNe Schiappa, West Citrus Elks Children’s Christmas Program Coordinator; and Eileen Flannery. West Citrus Lodge members Karla Cefalo, Cindy Green, Sandy Koval and Shirley Gamache shopped for the gifts.


Orlando Elks Give Kids a Happy Holiday

Orlando Elks Lodge #1079 held their annual “Guys and Dolls” Christmas show Dec. 5. They had 128 members, family and friends in attendance. Historically the 25 members of this cast have put on this show without requesting monies from the lodge which includes costumes and decorations. A total of $612.46 was brought into the lodge for the general fund. Also, the Does sold desserts and made over $100 for the general fund. Also donated were 76 items for Toys for Tots this year. Toys for Tots is a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve which distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas. The program was founded in 1947 by reservist Major Bill Hendricks.

Orlando Lodge donated $2,500 to the Shop with a Cop program which is an event to foster positive relationships between youth and officers. Young children from kindergarten through sixth grade are selected each year during the end of the year holiday season to shop at one of the local area stores to purchase gifts for members of their immediate family. This year 150 children enjoyed shopping at Target. Each child was given a small amount of money to spend, normally $50-$100 depending on the size of the child’s immediate family. Approximately one or two children are assigned to each police officer who then escorts them around the store and assists in selecting appropriate gifts for each family member. The children are told that the money is not for personal use and must only be spent on family members. After shopping, the children will eat lunch, wrap their gifts and continue to get to know the police officers.


West Citrus Welcomes Four New Members

2693 init

On Nov. 20, West Citrus Lodge #2693 initiated four new members. Pictured are Tom Brannelly, Sue Evans, Exalted Ruler Tony Schiappa, Mike Buchanan and Debbie Baker.


West Citrus Lodge Initiates New Members

2693 Initiation

On Nov. 20, West Citrus Lodge #2693 initiated four new members. Pictured are Tom Brannelly, Sue Evans, Exalted Ruler Tony Schiappa, Mike Buchanan and Debbie Baker.


Kissimmee Elks Use Promise Grant for Local Students

Kissimmee Lodge used a Promise Grant to take over 100 Exceptional Student Education students and chaperones from Osceola High School and Pleasant Hill Elementary School to Legoland. Sixteen of the chaperones were from the lodge.


Kissimmee Elks Hold Public Safety Night

1873 Public Safety

Kissimmee Elks Lodge #1873 held its annual Public Safety Night Nov. 11 where they recognize outstanding members of local law enforcement, fire rescue and correction departments. Pictured are Sheriff’s Deputy James Froelish, Trooper Robert Roxbury of the Florida Highway Patrol, Chaplain Rev. Peter Zieg of the Kissimmee Fire Department, Officer Matthew Redditt of the Saint Cloud Police Department, Lieutenants John Cooper and Victor Ruiz of the Osceola County Corrections Department, Detective Andrew Holmberg of the Kissimmee Police Department, and Firefighter David Miller of the Osceola County Fire/Rescue Department. Missing from the picture is Lieutenant Robert Clark of the Saint Cloud Fire/Rescue Department. The lodge also honored the memory of two Kissimmee police officers who were killed in the line of duty, Sergeant Richard Sam Howard and Officer Matthew Scott Baxter.


West Citrus Lodge Initiates 12 New Members in September


West Citrus Lodge #2693 initiated 12 new members in September. Pictured with Exalted Ruler, Tony Schiappa, are Larry Picard, Steven Gamache, Shirley Gamache, Zigmund Laska, Gary Sheldon, Edward Stevens, Adrian "Andy" Phaneuf, William Mears Jr, Murielle Heath, Michele Conley, Janis Winter and Nickholas Crnek Jr.


Kissimmee Elks Serve Breakfast at Give Kids the World

1873 Give Kids the World

Kissimmee Elks Lodge #1873 continues to volunteer at Give Kids the World by serving a monthly breakfast. Pictured are PDD Bob Barry, Fran Barry, Kathy Webb, Joyce Thimgan, DD Bill Misczak, Susan Secrest, Pat Snyder, PER Ken O’Brien, Bill Snyder, ER Etta Jean Platt and PER Jim Platt.


Zephyrhills Elks Lodge Grows Summer Lunch Program

2731 Luau

Three years ago, Zephyrhills Elks Lodge’s Exalted Ruler at the time, Donna Moyer, and her husband, David (current ER), took on a passion for feeding the community’s less fortunate children. Many may have been forced to do without meals after school recessed for their summer vacation.

Initially, the lodge was involved in the program sponsored by Pasco County serving cold meals. However, it did not include the adults who transported them to the lodge (either their parents or guardians). It was obvious how unsatisfied the children were with the cold meals nor did the lodge want to turn away the adults.

The lodge then started their lunch program, serving nutritious, hot, homecooked meals from scratch including fruits, vegetables, milk, an entrée and dessert. At this point they invited the parents or guardians to join them for lunch, no registrations and no questions asked. In week three of their third year, they had surpassed the total children fed the entire year before. It’s sad to see that the need has increased from year to year, but they are very satisfied to be reaching out to so many.

This year the lodge provided over 3,500 meals over the summer; the program ran Monday through Friday from June 5 through August 11. In addition to feeding the families, the lodge added some activities. The entertainment director from Westbrooke Manor Assisted Living & Memory Support volunteered on Mondays to come in with crafts for the children. On occasion, ice cream sundaes and snow cones were provided. On Wednesdays they held a reading circle; they received many donations of new and mildly used books from Elks and children’s learning centers. Children were allowed to take a book with them. The program has encouraged literacy and reading interaction within the family. Many of the students did not have books at home. On Thursdays and Fridays, the lodge had visitors come in to read to the children, color with them, or answer questions for them or their family. Some visitors included Interim Police Chief, Derek Brewer; Capt. Reginald Roberts Sr. and Officer David Wainright. The firemen came in for a visit with a fire truck and allowed the children to climb on board, ask questions and toot the air horn.

This year’s program came to a close with a luau for the kids and their families with food, dancing and entertainment. Each child was given a backpack filled with school supplies. Joining the party were members of Zephyrhills Police Department, Zephyrhills Fire Rescue, Westbrooke Manor Assisted Living & Memory Support, and East Pasco Meals on Wheels. Susan H. Longman of Midlife Crisis Entertainers of Brooksville provided music.

The lodge hopes to grow the program each year. None of this would have been possible without the overwhelming support from the Elks and local volunteers giving their time and donations and the partnerships that helped with the food donations.


Brotherhood Ride Makes a Stop at Orlando Elks Lodge

1079 Brotherhood Ride

The Brotherhood Ride continues the tradition of honor, dedication and pride. Over the past nine years, they have honored the memory and sacrifice of 511 emergency first responders which includes firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical personnel. The Brotherhood teams have traveled over 7,700 miles through 16 states on bicycles, have been hosted by over 40 Elks lodges nationwide, and have been assisted by countless emergency first responders who have shown the true meaning of brotherhood. Through year-round fundraising efforts, the Brotherhood Ride has been able to honor the memory of fallen heroes and provide emotional and financial support to their families. Past Brotherhood Rides have honored fallen first responders from South Carolina, Texas, New York, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts and raised over $379,000 for the families left behind.

This year this amazing group of riders spent the night at Orlando Elks Lodge #1079 after having traveled from DeLand Elks Lodge. They arrived at approximately 1:00 p.m. and after having dropped their beds and personal items in the lodge room, they were transported to the Orlando Fire Station where they could shower. That night the lodge served dinner to the Brotherhood participants along with the families of fallen officers Lieutenant Debra Clayton of the Orlando Police Department and Deputy First Class Norman Lewis of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. After enjoying good food and fellowship in the ballroom, the riders retired for the night. The next morning after being served breakfast, they headed to Vero Beach Elks Lodge.


West Citrus Elks Receive Membership Award

2693 plaque

At the 2017 Florida State Elks convention (FECON ’17) in May, Tony Schiappa, Exalted Ruler, accepted a plaque awarded to West Citrus Elks Lodge #2693 for a positive growth in membership for the past 13 consecutive years.


Louisiana State Legislature Increases New Orleans Hotel Occupancy Tax

The Legislature of the State of Louisiana has acted to increase the New Orleans Hotel Occupancy Tax from 13% to 14.75% effective April 1, 2014. This will affect our convention room rates and they will go from $128.56 to $130.52 per night.

Convention Attendees With ADA Transportation Needs Urged To Contact Grand Lodge

In order for the Grand Lodge to support the transportation needs of attendees with disabilities you are urged to contact the Grand Lodge if you require special assistance. Special coaches capable of kneeling to accommodate wheel chairs will be placed along the routes for those in need. If you require assistance please contact Tina or Jessica at the Grand Lodge as follows:


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