As Zephyrhills Lodge Veterans Services Committee Chair, Ken Fabiani, PER receives food donations in addition to furnishings. Some of these he gives to the veterans, but he also shares some with a local ministry called Healing Hearts Café in Zephyrhills, Florida. The cafe feeds those who are food insecure, including those who are homeless, seniors, construction workers, workers who earn minimum wage and others. The facility is climate-controlled to avoid the heat or cold outside. There is a TV room with futons and recliners for a safe place to catch up on some sleep, and the TV broadcasts Christian programming. Any of the food that Fabiani donates or that the facility receives is served for the meals or is used in blessing boxes around Zephyrhills to help feed anyone who needs it.
Pictured are Ken Fabiani, PER and Donna Nelson, co-director of Healing Hearts Café.
On May 25 the packing crew from West Citrus Elks Lodge #2693 arrived at Citrus County Blessings in Lecanto, Florida, to pack 178 bags of weekend food for children. The crew also brought a donation for $2,000 from the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant. The donation was accepted by Christina Reed, executive director, and Rachelle Garret-Butler, program coordinator. The lodge has two groups of volunteers to pack food. The food is sent home with the children on Friday to be sure that they have enough to eat over the weekend.
Pictured are Beth Tarnowski, Shirley Gamache, Donna Hayes, Rick Jeroski, Bev Kelly and Jill Jerowki.
On May 3, John DeLorenzo, president of the Zephyrhills Lions Club and a member of Zephyrhills Elks Lodge, presented a $2,500 check to the lodge before the Lions’ bingo games began. Every Tuesday the Lions Club bingo players hold a 50/50 raffle and donate half of the proceeds to local charities. The bingo players raised this money for Zephyrhills Lodge’s Feed the Kids summer program. The Elks received a grant for three years to feed the kids every summer, but this year the grant is no longer available to the program, so this donation could not have come at a better time. Anyone with children can participate in the program. This year’s program began June 6 and will end Aug. 5. To-go meals are provided at the lodge Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11-1. Every other Wednesday, craft packages are distributed, which consist of projects for various holidays, like Father's Day and Fourth of July, as well as crafts for anti-bullying and drug awareness. The other Wednesdays will feature a new part of the program called Park & Play, held in the parking lot. There are games for the kids to play and books to read, and dictionaries and schools supplies in backpacks are given out before the school year begins.
Pictured with the check are Gwen Klamer, Elk volunteer; David Moyer, Leading Knight; Donna Moyer, Elks program chair; John DiLorenzo, Lions president; Jay Klamer, Exalted Ruler; Anne MacDonald, Elk volunteer; and Wayne Page, Elks trustee. Not pictured is Christine Malone, Lions Club treasurer.
On April 3, Donna Hoffman, Exalted of Orlando Elks Lodge #1079, presented the Mental Health Association of Central Florida with a donation of $2,500 from its Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant. The donation is to better serve the community to provide mental health services, especially to those affected by COVID and dealing with trauma. Pictured are Kim Holdridge, Mental Health Association Board chair; Mami Stahiman, Mental Health Association president/CEO; and Donna Hoffman, Exalted Ruler.
On Feb. 3, Zephyrhills Lodge hosted the monthly breakfast meeting for the Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce. Because their meetings are usually held at a local restaurant, most attendees were inquisitive about having breakfast at the lodge, but through the meeting, they were very impressed by the Zephyrhills Elks and how they help the community. Barbara Conklin, Leading Knight, donated the breakfast with over 50 people in attendance and arranged speakers from the lodge to present their charities. The speakers were Donna Moyer, trustee for the Feed the Kids program; Judy Osgood, Elks National Foundation Fundraising Chair; Beth Impson, Lodge Harry-Anna Trust Fund Chair; and Paul Nutting, Exalted Ruler. Each gave a speech about their charities and what the Elks do for them and the community. Zephyrhills Elks Lodge has been a chamber member for many years.
Pictured are breakfast attendees.
On Jan. 11, Zephyrhills Elks Lodge #2731 delivered fleece sweatshirts in various colors and sizes to four elementary schools in Zephyrhills — Chester, Woodland, Centennial and West. Chester and Woodland are Title I schools, which have underserved students. The sweatshirts were purchased using $2,012.87 of the lodge’s Elks National Foundation (ENF) Gratitude Grant.
Pictured at Centennial Elementary are Alice Tolson, ENF Fundraising Committee member; Noemi Torres, parent advocate; and Judy Osgood, Lodge ENF Fundraising Committee chair and lodge grants coordinator.
On Feb. 6, Kissimmee Elks Lodge #1873 donated its $2,000 Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to First United Methodist Church of St. Cloud, Florida. The church sponsors "Bags of Love" two days a week, where those experiencing homelessness receive a bag of nonperishable items and a hot meal. Counseling and clothing are also available. On Sunday, the church rotates with four other churches to offer a hot meal through Elmer's Kitchen Ministry. The church also provided cold-weather housing and food during a recent string of cooler weather. Some of the monies are also being used to purchase a commercial refrigerator.
On Dec. 14, members of Aripeka Elks Lodge #2520 hosted a Christmas party for more than 200 children in foster care under the guidance of the Guardian ad Litem program in New Port Richey, Florida. These children have been removed from their families for a variety of reasons and placed in a foster home with a family to care for them. The lodge’s main hall was decorated for the event. Lodge members and members of the Guardian ad Litem program donated toys for all the children, and all 35 bicycles were purchased by the lodge. Lodge members also provided every child and sponsor with food and drinks during the party. Santa Claus even made an appearance to greet the children which was a great hit!
Pictured are all the toys donated by Aripeka Lodge members for children in foster care.
Zephyrhills Elks participate in many local activities as an opportunity to show the community what they do. One of these was the downtown Halloween parade Oct. 30 called Halloween Howl. Community organizations create floats and this year’s theme was Christmas in Candyland. Members donate candy for Elks to toss to the kids in the crowd.
Pictured in the float are Ceil Muldroon as the Lollipop Queen, Dorothy Sollmann as Princess Lollipop's cousin and David Moyer, PER as Elroy the Elk/King Candy. He walked around talking to the kids about drug prevention.
On Oct. 29, Zephyrhills Elks Lodge #2731 member Barbara Conklin, Leading Knight and Membership Chair, and her committee members organized a trunk-or-treat event held in the lodge parking lot. Several cars were decorated and there were more than 100 kids in costume. Members donated the candy to pass out to the kids and talked with the parents about what the Elks do for the kids and the community. The also passed out applications and literature. Pictured by a decorated vehicle is member Cindy Pinto.
On Dec. 15, Zephyrhills Lodge hosted a party for community members with special needs. Some attended from Angel Home, a group home where they reside. Lodge member Dorothy Sollmann had a budget of $500 partially raised from lodge members and bingo players. Attendees are greeted with Christmas music from DJ Marc Reed from Tunes 4 You Entertainment, who donates his time gleefully. The partygoers are served hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, ice cream and punch. They can also feast on the many donated cookies. After lunch, Santa makes a visit, talks to them, and gives them stockings with all sorts of goodies and a stuffed animal, donated by Ken Fabiani, PER, lodge Veterans chair. Many enjoy the dancing on the dance floor the best. Pictured are Santa (Jay Klamer, PER), Alona Gibner and Dorothy Sollmann.
On Dec. 14, Zephyrhills Elks Lodge #2731 donated 16 $300 Walmart gift cards to the students at Zephyrhills High School who are homeless. The money was raised at lodge events. Pictured at the school are Judy Williams, school IA/parent involvement coordinator; Jay Klamer, PER; Shirley Crawford, Inner Guard and lodge gift program coordinator; and Dr. Christina Stanley, principal.