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VA Hospital Receives Helpful Donation from Lakeland Elks Lodge

1291 VA shoes and shirts

Lakeland Lodge is helping the domiciliary and psychiatric unit at James A. Haley VA Hospital which includes homeless veterans. Their immediate need was for women’s and men’s T-shirts and underwear and men’s athletic shoes. These patients come in to the program with nothing and most are wearing shoes that are worn out. The lodge has donated $1,015-worth of these items which includes 38 pair of shoes, 12 packs of men’s t-shirts, 11 packs of men’s underwear and 15 packs of women’s underwear. They also donated 22 personal care kits from member Dan Wait’s Sandpiper community. These care packages were tailored toward the homeless veterans and included toiletries, socks and puzzle books. 


Lakeland Elks Donate Drinks for Veteran Counseling Sessions

1291 VA drinks

Lakeland Elks Lodge #1291 is making sure that local veterans at the Lakeland Veterans Center have something sweet to drink. They donated $575-worth of beverages: 20 cans of coffee, 12 cans of creamer, 2,000 packets of sugar, 12 cases of Gatorade and 15 cases of soda. These items are used by the veterans during counseling and therapy sessions. Having something to drink during a counseling session helps the veteran relax and stay focused. It also takes the expense off them as the center is not provided with any funds for beverages.


Tampa Elks Help a Veteran Furnish her Apartment into a Home

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Merly, one of the veterans who attended Thanksgiving dinner at Tampa Elks Lodge, recently moved out of the Athena House, a home for homeless female veterans. She is an Army veteran, is disabled and is on kidney dialysis. Her prognosis is very poor, yet somehow she remains in good spirits. She is sociable and wanted to have her new neighbors over for a meal or card game, but she was not equipped enough to entertain. She had made progress finding the essentials to set up house, but she still needed help to make it a home. If she put every pot, pan, plate, cup and fork she owned in the dishwasher, it would still look empty. She had no containers for microwaving or storing leftovers. She needed more towels and a dinette set, as she was using a card table. She also had nothing on her walls and no tools to hang them with, either. Shelving for her walk-in closet was another need because she is small and ill and it is hard for her to move boxes around.

Say no more, Merly! Tampa Elks really came through for this veteran in need! Thanks to the extreme generosity of some Tampa Elks and their friends, Merly was gifted with brand new small appliances, a cutlery set, Pyrex and Corningware, purses and totes, platters and coffee sets, dishes, flatware, pots and pans, and Rubbermaid containers. She received a dinette set with tablecloths, new glass inserts for her coffee table and nice wall decorations. Elks gave her new clothes, plenty of towels, tools, and pots and pans. These items were donated by Victoria Bihorel, Jackie Appel, Dianne Curry, Patty Volpe, Kristina Chowning, Susie Harlow, Tracy Affleck, Clint Wright, Bill Dean, Debbie Cassells and Connie Lindsey. Jack Johnson and Jeremy Elkins each donated several hours to deliver all the items. Georgia Hilficker and Marty Quire handled the communication and made sure members were aware of the need.

On Feb. 2, Bonnie Atwood and Rita Smith made the final trip to Merly’s apartment to take her shopping. She had been overwhelmed by the generosity of the Tampa Elks but still knew she needed shelving for her closet. There was not much else she needed, and she did not even manage to spend the whole $200 allotted. When pressed, she said, “I just don’t need anything else. Please tell everybody ‘thank you so much!’”


Tampa's Freedom Grant Brings Smiles to Veterans

As part of Tampa Lodge's Freedom Grant, it is becoming common for veterans to spend time at the lodge, and they seem to really be enjoying it!


On Oct. 19, veterans from James A. Haley Veterans Hospital came for Friday night dinner and karaoke. Yes, they sang!



On Dec. 15, 15 veterans from the VA Domiciliary attended dinner and karaoke. Some even stayed after to enjoy a few games of eight ball.  

Tampa Elks Raise Funds for Military Booster Fund

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Tampa Elks Lodge #708 held a raffle and raised $168 to donate to the 6th Contracting Squadron Booster Club at MacDill AFB. Pictured are Senior Airman, Felix Castro; Tampa Elks Treasurer, Rita Smith; and Senior Airman, Derek Bortelho, from the 6th Contracting Squadron. This unit is the third leg of the MacDill AFB Middle East operations. The other two are SOCOM and CENTCOM. It is a very small active-duty unit that supports the military contractors and they can’t divulge much about their job. Perhaps inadvertently, they are left out of most social activities at SOCOM and CENTCOM, so they started a booster fund so they could have some unappropriated funds to use for going-away parties when somebody is deployed or transferred, baby showers, and other celebrations. Derek Bortelho is an Elk from New Providence and asked the Tampa Elks to help him raise some money for this fund.


Plant City Lodge Presents Army of Hope Check for Injured Veteran's Family

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Through the untiring efforts of Plant City Lodge Veterans Chairman, Judy Wise, a check for $4,000 was rushed to Daytona Halifax Hospital to help a military family in need. The soldier sustained a head and brain injury in an accident while on duty. He was in an induced coma and efforts by doctors to wake him have failed so far. He is in a hospital in Daytona but his wife lives two hours away. She stays by his side as much as possible but needs to travel home at times. She was in need of financial aid to offset the cost of travel, lodging near the hospital and meals. The soldier’s military unit reached out to Plant City Lodge because they knew about the Army of Hope program. This soldier was deployed to Afghanistan in 2015-2016 and among his many recognitions are a Bronze Star and three Army commendation medals.

Pictured are Ed Wise, a representative from Plant City Armory, Judy Wise and ER Marty Carroll as a $4,000 check from the Army of Hope is presented for an injured veteran’s spouse.


Lodge #2753 uses Beacon Grant to Provide Meals to Homeless


Bonita Springs-Estero Elks Lodge #2753 used its Beacon Grant to provide some Christmas cheer in the form of holiday meals for homeless veterans and homeless members of the Fort Myers community. Twenty-seven Elk volunteers met and assembled Christmas meal bags, and each bag contained a gift card for ham or turkey. The volunteers delivered the bags to the Lee County Veterans Office in Fort Myers where they were readied for distribution.


Brandon Elks and Ladies Continue Christmas Tradition

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One of Brandon Lodge’s annual Christmas traditions is their visit to James A. Haley Veterans Hospital. Each December, the Elks and Ladies of Elks collect donations from members to purchase gifts for the veterans. Jean Barfield, Past Lady President shopped for the gifts. Stephanie Shirey, Past Lady President along with her husband, Howard, and Past Lady Presidents Colleen Harmon and Eileen Subko assembled the gift bags. Current Lady President Julie Ebert did the shopping and assembling on behalf of the lodge. Barbara Matthews made arrangements with the hospital.

On Sunday, Dec. 17, Elks and ladies delivered 100 Christmas bags full of goodies to patients of the Spinal Cord Injury Unit. Most recipients are in wheelchairs or confined to bed. Ebert said “our veterans are so happy for the gifts but even more happy to interact with the Elks who deliver. Each veteran is personally thanked for their service to our country. Some of the veterans have no visitors so just the company is the best gift we can give.” Cookies and treats are also provided to the nursing staff as a token of gratitude for taking care of our most valuable assets, our veterans.

Howard and Stephanie Shirey and Julie Ebert delivered Christmas gifts from Brandon Elks and Ladies to James A. Haley Veterans Hospital.


Winter Park Elks and Does Lay Wreaths at Veterans' Graves

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Once again, Winter Park Elks and Does met at the historic Greenwood Cemetery in Orlando to lay wreaths at the graves of veterans from as far back as the Civil War. The lodge donates to Wreaths Across America, an organization that provides Christmas wreaths from the Maine woods to Arlington National Cemetery and others across the nation to remember our veterans.


Perry Elks Take Care of Veterans for Christmas

Perry Elks Lodge #1851 held their annual Veterans Day banquet Sunday, Nov. 5. While all veterans present were considered honored guests, the program was focused on Vietnam veterans this year. The banquet service was followed by a program hosted by member Ed Harvey in which each veteran was introduced and a short summary of his service time was shared. Veterans’ meals were free.

Perry Lodge certainly remembered veterans and those less fortunate during Christmas. Six veteran families each received a box and two bags of nonperishable groceries and a $75 gift certificate for Christmas. The lodge also provided Christmas for three female veterans residing at the Robert Jenkins Veterans Domiciliary in Lake City. Several less fortunate families in the community received Christmas boxes as well.

1851 Vet Boxes

Pictured are trustee Lorena Grambling with veterans’ gift baskets for Taylor County United founder, Michele McLeod, and her helper.


Live Oak Lodge ER Helps Veteran and Lineman

Live Oak Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler, John Cowan, came to the rescue for a veteran, Chris Geary, who had been hospitalized in Live Oak’s Shands Hospital while he was in Florida working on an electric line crew after Hurricane Irma. Geary’s crew had already returned home and Geary needed a ride to Lake City to catch the Greyhound home to Barnstable, Mass. Cowan got him to the bus station on time.


Lake City Elks Honor Veterans at Dinner

893 Vets

Veterans were recognized at Lake City Elks Lodge #893 in honor of Veterans Day with a moving speech by Colonel Bill Brown and a great meal. Sponsor Weezie Huelskamp oversaw the event. Pictured are Esteemed Loyal Knight Charlie Keith, Huelskamp, Brown and ER Chris Williams.


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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