The Florida State Elks Association, Inc. is a non-profit corporation founded in 1904. It is a voluntary association of Elks Lodges and all Florida Lodges are eligible for membership.

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Florida Elks News Online

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District Reporter: May Graci

Music Sweet Music Inc. Receives a Donation from St. Petersburg Elks

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On Tuesday, July 11, the St. Petersburg Lodge donated $500 to Music Sweet Music Inc. (MSM Inc.) to assist in their fundraising campaign. The funds from this campaign will be used to pay MSM Inc.’s contracted board-certified music therapists in their existing program. Joanne Matos, PER expressed that “St. Pete wants to make sure that the children of our community continue to get the care they need.”

MSM Inc. has over 1,500 interventions yearly with hospitalized and non-hospitalized children at PARC, Morning Star School, John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital’s Outpatient Centers, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa and Clearwater, and Shriners’ Children’s Hospital in Tampa.

MSM Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization devoted to making a difference in the Tampa Bay community. For more information on MSM Inc. or if you know of someone in need of their services in the Tampa Bay area, please

Ted Wagner, founder of the organization, commented that “Elks Lodge 1224 is making a difference in the lives of children with illnesses and diseases. Thank you on behalf of the children we serve!”

May Graci (left), MSM Inc. administrative assistant, and PER Joanne Matos (right) present St. Petersburg Lodge’s donation to Ted Wagner, president and founder of MSM Inc.


Santa Claus Visits St. Petersburg Lodge in July

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Volunteers got into the spirit of Christmas with their festive Santa shirts, but elf shoes had to be traded for flip-flops for St. Petersburg Lodge’s annual Christmas-in-July pool party July 9. The event chair, Exalted Ruler Bonnie Barnes, planned a community-focused event to bring families to the lodge and to make it a day of yuletide fun for kids of all ages. It is a lot of fun because the lodge incorporates many of the beloved eccentricities of the holiday without the stress for the families.

Johnny Miller donated his time as a DJ for the afternoon, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus (who sometimes disguise themselves as Len Fromel and Tina Martell) made an appearance in their summer attire much to the delight of the kids. A total of 97 kids ages 10 and under received a summer-themed Christmas gift. Besides the toys, the kids in attendance also received a free lunch of hot dogs and macaroni & cheese. Also on hand for the festivities was Elroy the Elk (Tom Mortka, PER); his assistant, Debbie Farris-Mortka, handed out candy to the kids. Activities for the kids included the PER-sponsored tossing of the quarters into the pool for the kids to retrieve. Other activities included swimming and dancing contests for the different age groups.


St. Petersburg Member Wins National Honor

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St. Petersburg Lodge member Theodore “Ted” Wagner was chosen this year as one of 30 volunteers from across the country to be honored by the Cabot Creamery Cooperative as Community Celebrity volunteers. The volunteers received an all-expense paid Alaskan cruise for two for their commitment to volunteering and for their longstanding service to their communities. Wagner has been volunteering in his community for 20 years with kids, veterans and other non-profit associations.

The seven-day trip which set sail June 2 was the sixth Cabot Community Celebrity cruise since the program began in 2009. Cabot partners with organizations such as Points of Light, AARP/Create the Good, National Cooperative Bank and many other sponsors that help make these awards a reality. Not only did Wagner and his wife, Nuala, enjoy a beautiful, relaxing and scenic cruise, they attended workshops and seminars to enhance their volunteer efforts.

After volunteering at a local children’s hospital, he wanted to help more children not only in the hospital but also after they returned home. In 2001, he founded Music Sweet Music, a nonprofit that provides instruments and music therapy to treat children with illnesses, diseases and disorders. Currently the nonprofit contracts three board-certified music therapists and have over 1,500 interventions with hospitalized kids children annually. If you wish to learn more about Music Sweet Music, please visit

St. Petersburg member Ted Wagner, top row, center, is pictured with other Community Celebrity nationwide volunteers.


Largo Elks Make Donation to Foster Care Services

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Largo's ER Gerard Milot and PER Aurora Griesler Jones presented a donation of $1,000 to Coleen Comey, Director of Pinellas County Foster Care & Adoptive Children. A special friend also attended.


Troop 417 Holds Cleanup Day for Largo Lodge

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To reinforce their commitment to service, Troop 417 tackled projects to help maintain and improve the lodge that supports them, Largo Elks Lodge. Led by its youth leaders, the troop trimmed trees on the property and along the fence lines and raked leaves from the front of the lodge. Some scouts cleaned out the trash can washing-station behind the kitchen, and other scouts repaired the lattice work below the Tiki bar. Around the base of the flagpole, they cleaned out the leaves and dirty rocks and replaced them with bright blue stones, greatly improving its appearance.



Largo Elks Receive Recognition at Elementary School Volunteer Appreciation Day

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Fuguitt Elementary held a volunteer appreciation gathering May 9. Some of the lodge volunteers attended: from left, PER Joe Fischer, Shari Samples, Chuck and Annette Watts, Beth Behrendt (school secretary), Mary Lou Hughes, and Jenny Naegele represented Largo Elks Lodge.






Largo Elks Support Elementary Color Guard

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Largo Elks Lodge supported the Fuguitt Elementary School color guard ceremony held at Frankie’s Patriot BBQ. The lodge supplied the transportation and paid for the lunch of the color guard and their chaperones. The luncheon was to honor the color guard’s achievements throughout the school year. Fuguitt Elementary is the only elementary school in the county with a color guard unit. The school’s unit promotes patriotism, hard work, manners and discipline. Their motto is “your success is your country’s success.”


New Port Richey Awards Scholarship to JNROTC Student

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PER Marilee Mills, New Port Richey Lodge Secretary (left), and Margaret Smith, Loyal Knight (right), presented a $500 scholarship to the Most Deserving Student at Gulf High School JNROTC, Ohna Clark, during an awards program.













New Port Richey Elks Use Gratitude Grant to Keep Officers Safe

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New Port Richey Elks Lodge presented a check in the amount of $2,000 to New Port Richey Police Chief, Kim Bogart. The city has plans to use the monies received to purchase high-tech equipment that will further promote the safety of its police officers and the safety and welfare of the community. The money the lodge donated was from a Gratitude Grant.

New Port Richey Lodge Exalted Ruler, Tom Moran, and member Cindy Moran presented Police Chief, Kim Bogart, with $2,000 to purchase safety equipment.









Tampa Elks Volunteer at Local Church Offering Assistance to the Homeless

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Tampa Lodge partnered with Hyde Park United Methodist Church which opens its doors to their fellowship hall at 7:30 a.m. every Sunday to the homeless. During the month of May, the lodge spent over $1,300 to assist in the funding of this Open Arms Ministry. Besides a great meal, the homeless are offered the opportunity to fill their backpacks with bags of fruit, loaves of bread, peanut butter sandwiches and anything left over after everybody has been through the breakfast line once. Each week the church also offers a different service like a clothing store, hairstyling service, bicycle repair and dental work to name a few. You will find many of the lodge members volunteering during these services and on the third Sunday of each month. Courtney Weil, PER takes on the kitchen manager job, arriving at 6:30 a.m. and serving at 8 a.m.


Tampa Elks Attend Career Fest with Club Chivalry Students

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Five Tampa Elk chaperones and 32 Club Chivalry students attended a Career Fest sponsored by Hillsborough County Schools and the Technology Department at Hillsborough Community College. The bus for the field trip was provided for free by the Hillsborough County Schools. Kids from numerous high schools attended Career Fest; the students moved around freely through the areas at their own pace. A boxed lunch was provided by Chick-fil-A and at the end of Career Fest, the lodge provided chips and sodas for students as they boarded the bus.


Tampa Elks Youth Events

Tampa Elks Lodge #708 held a bowling tournament for children ages 9-17; 39 attended. The children, volunteers and parents bowled two full games. Upon returning to the lodge, trophies were distributed and participants were treated to pizza followed by an extreme ice cream sundae bar which was the hit of the day. Patty Elkins chaired this event with the assistance of 21 Elks and non-Elk volunteers for a cumulative 104 hours of volunteerism and a total expenditure of $1,152.

For the second year in a row, Tampa Lodge participated in Robinson High School’s Club Chivalry’s Relay for Life which was held this past spring. Other area schools and community groups participated at the event. Students working the event earned community service hours and other awards based on their donations and participation. The Club Chivalry sponsor is fellow Elk Kristina Chowning. In addition to overseeing students walking the track all night, she also sold French fries to over 100 customers, and with the student participants meeting their individual goal of raising $100, the club exceeded its goal of raising $1,000.


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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