DeLand Elks along with other community partners provided kids in DeLand, Florida, a socially distant and fun Christmas affair. The Elks prepared and distributed more than 250 goody bags that included homemade cookie decorating kits, ornament kits, coloring pages and crayons. Santa and Mrs. Claus along with their Elk elves greeted kids with their masks on as they came through the drive-thru for some Christmas cheer! Member Davina Watercutter chaired this event.
Principal Tagye of Gardendale School on Merritt Island in Florida asked Merritt Island Lodge if they could donate some T-shirts to the student body that would be used for uniforms. This school is the last chance for students who have gotten into trouble in traditional public schools in the county, and in many cases, it is a choice of expulsion or attending this facility, which is a Brevard Public School. The student body consists of approximately 125 students. However, because of the pandemic, the in-house attendance is about 50. Using $500 from the state association’s match of the $3,500 Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant, Donn Sophia and his daughter, Sophia Sardella, delivered 200 T-shirts to the school Nov. 4. With budgets tight all over, Tagye was very appreciative to get the shirts for her students. She explained that the goal of this school is to have the students return to their previous school better prepared socially, emotionally and academically. They also teach some values so the students can be successful in life.
On Dec. 1, Port Orange Lodge assembled and installed moveable racks and shelving at First Step Homeless Shelter in Daytona, Florida. The hardware which amounted to $3,500 was purchased using the Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. Pictured are George Brennan; Dan Mowbry, PER; Andy Berard; Don Clark, PER; William Post; and Larnard Felver, maintenance supervisor. Not pictured is Jerry Peterson, PER.
Ormond Beach Elks Lodge #2193 sponsors the Fun Time Bowlers each year using its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. Fun Time Bowlers is a bowling league for individuals with mental challenges and disabilities. The lodge pays for weekly bowling, T-shirts and medals. On Nov. 7, the following members are pictured at Ormond Lanes receiving an award from the group in appreciation of their support — John Andrews, Jackie Andrews, Bev Muscatello, Gerri Madden, Erica Barger, Bruce Card, Carl Muscatello, Sherman Burress and Donna Foisey.
Port Orange Elks Lodge #2723 held its monthly lunch at First Step Homeless Shelter in Daytona Beach, Florida, Nov. 7. Lodge members grill and serve the lunch and also donate items to present in gift bags to the residents. The food is purchased using funds from the Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. Volunteers from DeLand Elks Lodge #1463 also assisted. Pictured in the front row are Isabel Harris, weekend kitchen director; Barbara Thompson; Debbie Nordgren; and Frank Kuczkowski, PER. Pictured in the back row are Dan Black; Gary VanOpdorp, PER, Exalted Ruler; Vickie Black; Paulette Hand; Michelle Greci; Gary Hand; and Mark Thompson, PDD.
On Oct. 7, Merritt Island Elks Lodge #2650 used its $2,000 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to help a local learning institution purchase some badly needed computers for the teachers and students. The Brevard Private Academy in Merritt Island, Florida, is a school for kids who don’t fit into the public school system. This school keeps these kids from falling through the cracks and gives them the opportunity to get an education. Because the grant did not cover all the equipment needed, the lodge added an extra $1,686. Cheree Shaykhian, president of the academy, started to tear up as she thanked the lodge members and presented the lodge with a plaque. Pictured are Kim Johnson, Lodge Secretary; Shaykhian; and Jim Gregg, Exalted Ruler.
On Oct. 31, DeLand Elks Lodge #1463 and three local businesses participated in a community contactless Trunk or Treat Halloween event, each at their own locations. There were 211 cars that attended their drive-thru. The Elks distributed thousands of pieces of candy to over 500 children along with Drug Awareness coloring books. All the candy and pretzels were donated by lodge members. Pictured along with the drive-thru are lodge members Warren Kerswill and Desiree Templeton. Other members dressed up in costumes for the event as well.
On Aug. 22, Port Orange Elks Lodge #2723 held its first luncheon which will be a monthly event at the First Step Homeless Shelter in Daytona, Florida. The grill used to cook the luncheon was purchased by the lodge along with a grill cover, propane tanks and propane using $696.70 from its $3,500 Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. Along with the grill, members donated $450 to purchase bags, snacks and supplies which were distributed to the residents of the shelter. The shelter operates a safe zone where people experiencing homelessness have the option to become a temporary resident or just spend the day. Operating the grill are Dan Black, trustee, and Gary VanOpdorp, PER, Exalted Ruler.
Titusville Elks Lodge #2113 raised money from bingo to award three $1,000 academic scholarships to area seniors. Jared Rymkos from Titusville High School will study computer engineering, Jenna Koller from Astronaut High School will study journalism; and Brooke Stone from Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School will study criminal justice. Because of the lodge’s closure due to the pandemic, checks were mailed for the students at the end of June instead of being awarded during a presentation.
Ormond Beach Elks Lodge #2193 awarded three lodge scholarships in the amount of $750 each to local high school seniors June 26 at the lodge. Recipients were Ana Sanchez and Logan Stewart of Seabreeze High School and Ryan Waddell of Father Lopez Catholic High School. Students were presented with scholarship certificates following a steak dinner for the recipients and their families. Most of the schools these students attend did not host an in-person senior awards ceremony. Pictured are Michael Chandler, PDD, Scholarship Committee member; Ana Sanchez; Ryan Waddell; and Erika Barger, Lodge Scholarship Chair and Vice President of the East Central District. Logan Stewart was unable to attend the presentation.
DeLand Lodge donated $1,000 of its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to the Pregnancy Center of Deltona which provides services such as pregnancy tests and referrals to OB offices to females who are homeless or who have low incomes. They also supply new mothers with diapers, formula and other newborn needs.