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Florida Elks News Online

District Reporter: Charles R. Stieb

Venice-Nokomis Elks Support Children's Programs

Venice-Nokomis Elks Lodge #1854 donated school supplies to local elementary schools and the community center valued at $1,000. The lodge also donated towels, sunscreen, water bottles and items for the summer campers at the Sarasota Sheriff’s Youth Ranch. They donated food to the local Salvation Army for their homeless shelter and food to the local community center for their hot meal program for homeless children.


South Hillsborough Elks Sponsor Kids to Fishing Camp

2672 fishing

South Hillsborough Elks Lodge #2672 sponsored several local children to attend the Hillsborough County fishing camp held at E. G. Simmons Park. Earlier this year, the lodge applied for and received a $2,000 Gratitude Grant to introduce young people to fishing in the Tampa Bay area. Twenty-one boys between the ages of 12 and 15 participated in the program from July 14-25. Conservation, safety, knot-tying, species identification and fishing techniques were part of the curriculum. The highlight of the camp was a day trip of deep sea fishing on the Friendly Fisherman out of Hubbard’s Marina. Many of the kids had never fished before let alone in the deep water of the Gulf of Mexico. At the conclusion of the camp, each participant his own rod and reel.


Palmetto Elks Provide Backpacks to Students

2449 backpacks

Palmetto Elks had a backpack party for school supplies July 23. The lodge gave out 200 backpacks and provided hot dogs, drinks, chips and four piñatas. Eighteen Elk members and eight volunteers put it all together.

Pictured are Palmetto Elks Bob Ernst and Tom Smilowski presenting backpacks to some students.


Lodge #2855 Presents Scholarships

2855 scholarships

On Friday, Aug. 1, Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Elks Scholarship Chairman, Dawn Fallon, presented the 2017 lodge scholarship winners with their check. First-place winner, Sierra Barber, was presented a $1,500 check and second-place winner, John River Jr., was presented a $1,000 check. Both Sierra and John are recent graduates of Lakewood Ranch High School with Sierra attending the University of Florida and John attending the University of Mississippi. Lodge scholarships are for children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews of members in good standing at the lodge.

Dawn Fallon, Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Lodge Scholarship Chairman, presents John River Jr. and Sierra Barber with scholarships. Also pictured are Jack Unger, Paula Perrot and Joanne DiCarlo.


Bradenton Elks Raise Funds for Harry-Anna During Labor Day Weekend

During Labor Day weekend, Bradenton Elks Lodge #1511 held a talent show and dinner to raise money for the Harry-Anna Investment Fund. The show was emceed by Activities Chairman, Colleen Field, who added a comedic spin to the evening while gifted performers donated their time and talent to entertain. Along with a 50/50 held on Labor Day, the lodge netted $1,463 for the Harry-Anna Investment Fund.


EFELT Continues to Fight Child Hunger with its Backpack Program

EFELT backpackElks Feeding Empty Little Tummies Inc. (EFELT) is a 501c3 incorporated business sponsored by Bradenton Elks Lodge #1511. In 2012 they were joined by Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Elks Lodge #2855. The program started in August 2010, and by January 2011, they began providing meals, snacks, drinks, bread and other nonperishable foods to elementary school children who are homeless and/or living in food-deprived households. This is accomplished through a backpack program in cooperation with the Manatee County School System and the teachers. The food they provide is nonperishable and consists of six complete meals of two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, snacks, drinks and a loaf of bread. Some of these children reside in the back of cars, in group homes or motels. Many of these children are in Title One schools, hence breakfast and lunch is provided at the school they attend. Unfortunately, over the weekend these children typically go without food, and going to school hungry Monday makes it hard to focus. These children are missing essential nutrition which can stunt their physical development, affect grades and cause behavioral problems such as anxiety and anger.

All monies obtained through the Elks National Foundation, other grants, philanthropy, benefits and donations go to purchasing food, as EFELT has no administrative expense; all costs such as manpower, mileage, gasoline and paper are voluntary, donated and given in-kind. Their goal is not only to provide for as many children as they can afford through grants and donations of money and/or food but also to raise awareness in their community of the needs of these homeless children and to raise awareness of the Elks.

The school board identifies the children in need and EFELT provides six full meals of nonperishable food through a discreet process where the child’s name and whereabouts is not revealed. Food and snacks are processed by more than 120 volunteers at two sites in Manatee County, Fla., placed in backpacks and delivered to the schools on Fridays for distribution.

On Jan. 6, 2011, they started by providing food to 60 children in two elementary schools, and by January 2017 they have expanded to 850 children in 13 schools. Since the program’s beginning, they have provided 113,576 children between the ages of 5 and 12 with 681,456 meals containing 1,303,060 items which equate to 227 tons of food. Since Jan. 6, 2011, their 125 volunteers including the EFELT Board of Directors have spent 38,337 hours and have driven 144,774 miles (including delivery of the backpacks). That is $1,143,592.71 in-kind wage and $84,014.90 in-kind mileage at IRS allowable.

They are aware of 65 lodges in 20 states that are emulating the EFELT project or participating with other community backpack projects. The Elks have also assisted five lodges in five different states start a similar program. The program has brought in 48 new members in both lodges.

The problem of poverty is pervasive and can be overwhelming. Around the world, more than one billion people are malnourished. An estimated 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day and every day children are dying just because they don’t have enough food to eat. One out of every five children in the United States lives at or below the poverty level and the USDA estimates that 17.8% of all children in Florida are food-deprived. That's a tragedy that should not occur. Unfortunately, the children suffer the most. No child should suffer from hunger, especially when Elks can do something about it!

To learn more about this important work, please visit


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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