On Oct. 23, Orlando Elks Lodge #1079 hosted the annual Drug Awareness poster contest ceremony and luncheon, co-chaired by Carmen Rivera, Lodge Drug Awareness Chair, and Jossie Havens. Winners, parents, school administration, Commissioner Patty Sheehan and lodge board members were present at the ceremony. The lodge received many great poster entries, of which four were selected as winners and 10 were given additional trophies for honorable mention. Rivera says, “the winners gave unique images that captivate a positive message with this year’s theme, The Best Me is Drug-Free.” The first-place winner, Victoria Stirban, shared the message, “Don’t let drugs close the door to your future” and illustrated how drugs can lead to a broken foundation that will only cause you to fail and fall in the abyss. She also showed how wonderful her life would be drug-free, stepping on solid rock foundations with colors of happiness and walls of brick that no one can ever knock her down.” The second-place winner, Isiris Santiago, showed how great life is in the comfort of her home — safe, clean and healthy. When a person becomes a drug user, they lose everything such as their home, health, jobs, their family and friends, and ultimately their self-worth. There was a tie for third place. Rosaly Breve wrote, “Don’t Drug Yourself Down.” She emphasized that she has big plans to be strong, smart, healthy and drug-free. Maria Delarosa described how drugs can destroy a family. Her message was, “Don’t Give Drugs, Give Hugs,” and she illustrated a family with parents and two children. She also showed how “drugs rip apart families” and has wings, signifying death to everyone. She even wrote, “Drugs are harmful and can kill you” and “Drugs take away loved ones that we care about.” This is the reality of today’s society, especially this year when there was an increase of drug overdose and death due to drugs. Even Sheriff John Mina of the Orange County Sheriff Office said, “I see how every day, drugs destroy families' futures.” Orlando Lodge is proud to sponsor this contest because it gives them the opportunity to spread a positive message to children. Art teacher Donna Lindsey of Waterford Elementary took extra time to show the students a video regarding medication and where to dispose of them after their use. She also showed each class a video from the Elks Drug Awareness video contest winners. The message was very effective and these young children who participated know that drugs are dangerous and detrimental to their growth, brain and body.
Pictured are Commissioner Patty Sheehan, Robert Dewitz, Victoria Stirban, Carmen Rivera, Isiris Sanchez, Paula Boutwell, Rosaly Breva, Danielle Arbelaez-Willis, Maria Delarosa, Donna Lindsey, Donna Hoffman (Exalted Ruler), Jody Richards and Victor Berrios. The photographer was also a member, Stephanie Panes.
Ken Fabiani, PER, Zephyrhills Lodge Veterans Chair, made a personal donation of 380 face masks for the students at Woodland Elementary School, a Title 1 school. Judy Osgood, Elks National Foundation Fundraising Lodge Chair, delivered them to the school Sept. 7, where school social worker Lisa Selleto accepted them.
On April 22, Judy Osgood, Zephyrhills Lodge Chair of the Elks National Foundation Fundraising Committee, began collecting shoes and monetary donations for students at Woodland Elementary School. A large box and container were decorated with cutouts of shoes and placed in the lodge's lobby until August. On Aug. 18, Osgood presented Lisa Selleto, social worker, with approximately 95 pairs of shoes from the collection and the $360 in donations. Woodland Elementary is a Title 1 school with many students from low-income families. Selleto was recently introduced to the lodge’s fundraising efforts and was very impressed by the donations collected.
On June 17, Frank Ruszala, Chair of the Aripeka Lodge Board of Directors, and Bob Russell, Exalted Ruler, present a check for $1,000 to Jessica Quintero, team supervisor, and Gabby Flores, outreach manager of the Healthy Start Coalition of Pasco County, Florida. The organization provides total support for infant children whose families cannot financially support new children. In addition, Ruszala presented the coalition with handmade blankets and shawls that were made and donated by lodge members.
On the evening of June 17, Aripeka Elks Lodge #2520 donated $1,000 that was raised by lodge members to K9 Partners for Patriots to help fund the purchase and training of a K9 dog for a veteran in need. Receiving the donation from Exalted Ruler Bob Russell are Vreli Covington, Stephanie Doctor and Mary Peter, founder of the organization. The complete 24-week Service Dog Training Program includes the cost of the dog’s purchase, all necessary equipment and the training, which is provided to the veteran at no cost. The lodge Veterans Committee is raising funds to purchase and train two K9 dogs at a cost of $8,000 each.