In November, Gainesville Elks Lodge hosted a luncheon for 20 veterans who are transitioning from homelessness to housing. The lodge used a Freedom Grant to provide household items for the veterans to assist with their transitions. The lodge also used a Promise Grant to hold a turkey shoot at the lodge in November and provide 100 Thanksgiving baskets to local needy families.
In December, Gainesville Elks visited Gainesville Veterans Hospital to host bingo and conducted the annual caroling event. Each year, lodge members sing Christmas carols for the residents and present each resident visited with a Christmas gift bag containing toiletries and other personal items.
Green Cove Springs 1892
In November, Green Cove Springs Elks Lodge held a Hoop Shoot contest at Thomas Hogans Memorial Gymnasium. Each of the 15 children who participated received a contest t-shirt. Pictured with the contest winners are Gene Rittenhouse, PER; Hoop Shoot Chairman, Bill Layden; and Vice Chairman, Peggy Hoppin.
Green Cove Springs Lodge hosted a Veterans Appreciation Day in November. LTC Linda M. Rittenhouse, U.S. Army Retired, put the ceremony and dinner together along with PER Richard Kunze, the lodge’s Veterans Committee chairman. Each of the 29 veterans in attendance received a free dinner and drinks along with a miniature service flag and a U.S. ribbon flag pin. At the end of the 30-minute remembrance program, each person present received a U.S. flag star and a copy of the poem to keep as a memento. The star and poem were created by PER Kathy Thompson.
Pictured is lodge member Linda Rittenhouse welcoming everyone to the dinner.
In December, Green Cove Springs Elks Lodge partnered with the City of Green Cove Springs to sponsor Santa’s Workshop at the city’s annual Christmas parade. With the support of over a dozen local businesses, 19 members and spouses each gave two hours of their time the day before the event to sort and stuff gift bags. On the day of the parade, ten Elks and volunteers each spent six hours greeting families and handing out the gift bags to over 250 joyful children.
In December, Jacksonville Elks Lodge held a 125th anniversary celebration. The lodge is one of the six founding lodges of the Florida State Elks Association and is considered the mother lodge of Florida. In attendance were many elected officials including City Councilman and lodge member, Scott Wilson, PER; Northeast District DD, Paul Orvosh; Northeast District VP, Glen Gardner; Past State President, Jim Hurst; and Past Grand Exalter Ruler, Val Bates. Lodge member and mural artist, Bob Morgan, created a detailed indoor mural depicting the history of the lodge. The JSO Color Guard along with help from a local Boy Scout troop opened the ceremony. Presentations were made by various groups who regularly use the lodge to host their meetings. Among those groups were Vietnam Veterans Chapter and Semper Fi. Exhibits for the Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services, Drug Awareness and Veterans Activities were widely visited during the celebration. Entertainment was provided by the Fascinating Rhythm Orchestra, a 15-piece orchestra that rehearses and practices at the Lodge. Pictured are ER Dick Maloney and PSP Jim Hurst.
Pictured (L-R) are Amien Joseph, PER; Lodge Chaplain, Russ Brummer; and Norma Joseph handing out goody bags to children.
Mandarin/St. Johns 2866
Mandarin-St. Johns Elks Lodge #2866 conduct monthly bingo for residents at Clyde Lassen Veterans Nursing Home. In October, they held a Monte Carlo night to raise funds to support the lodge’s charitable projects. In November, they provided Thanksgiving baskets which included a turkey to local families in need.
Orange Park 2605
In October, Orange Park Elks Lodge #2605 sponsored bingo for Lake City Veterans Medical Center. The lodge provided $100 in bingo bucks for the residents which can be used to purchase items in the medical center’s canteen. In November, they held a veterans fish fry at the lodge. All lodge veterans ate for free. Several residents from the Lake City Domiciliary also attended the fish fry. The lodge also held the annual Christmas pizza party for the residents of the Lake City Domiciliary. The lodge purchased pizzas and lodge members provided desserts and goodies for the residents.
St. Augustine 829
In December, St. Augustine Elks held annual PAL Day. They provided free lunches at the lodge for active-duty military and their families. Also in December they held a kids’ Christmas party. The children were provided treats and enjoyed playing games. Santa stopped by to visit with the children. In December, they held an ugly sweater Christmas party.