Starting in November, the Eustis Anna Miller Circle sponsored a Christmas angel tree. Circle members and lodge members donated wrapped gifts for 72 students at Eustis Elementary School. The principal said this donation, which filled three cars, was the largest donation during the holidays for the children in her five years as principal.
The gifts were delivered to the school counselor Dec. 14 by Suzanne Cunningham; Beverely Dufresne, Anna Miller Circle president; Cindy Bennett, angel tree chair; Joyce Collier, Anna Miller and lodge member; and Rick Bennett, lodge member.
On Nov. 16, members of the Eustis Elks Lodge’s Anna Miller Circle #1578 packed 25 Thanksgiving dinners for Eustis Elementary students and their families. Included in the dinner packages were instant potatoes, canned vegetables, sweet potatoes, cranberries, gravy, stuffing, dessert mixes and a gift certificate to purchase the meat of their choice at a grocery store. All food items were donated by members of the Anna Miller Circle and Eustis Lodge. Yvonne Spikes made a generous donation to ensure all meals were completed for each family, and United Southern Bank provided the bags in which to pack the dinners.
The food packages were delivered to Eustis Elementary Nov. 17, the last school day before the holiday break, by Anna Miler member Judi MacCarroll and Elk Tom McCarroll. Carrie White, Eustis Elementary counselor, accepted them. Also pictured are the packages. The donation is valued at $1,500.
The Eustis Anna Miller Circle #1578 held its annual charity fashion show Oct. 28. More than 100 tickets were sold for this event, where they showcased fall fashions worn by eight Anna Miller models. Each model wore three different outfits: casual, cruise wear and evening dressy, which they selected from the Fashion Labels store in Leesburg, Florida. A salad bar lunch was donated by Anna Miller members. The event raised approximately $1,200 for Florida Elks Children's Therapy Services.
Pictured are Julie Kopplow; Andrea Fernandez; Joyce Collier; Anna Boykin; Beverly Dufresne, Ladies President; Bonnie Driver; Kathy Mitchell; and Sharon Feador.
On Oct. 10, volunteers from the Eustis Anna Miller Circle packed numerous items for The Haven of Lake and Sumter Counties, which totaled $3,311.10. The donation included 100 welcome packs for women (1-quart bags which include soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, dental floss, lotion, razor and more) and 100 welcome kits for children that include similar items as well as lip gloss, hand sanitizer, tissue packs and a small toy. The packs are given to women and children when they first arrive at the Haven's safe house as domestic assault survivors. The ladies also provided items for sexual assault survivors, which include sweatpants, T-shirts, flip-flops, sports bras, underwear, soaps, shampoos, cases of water, Gatorade, and crackers and snacks. The nurses provide the clothing to survivors to replace the clothes they must give for evidence. Additionally, 13 birthday packs of cake mix, frosting and candles were provided for mothers to bake a cake for their child while staying in the safe house. Full-size items were also donated, including toothpaste, soap, handmade children’s blankets, multivitamins, aspirin, pillows and more. The Haven provides crucial services to abused women and their children as well as rape survivors. They offer extensive programs to help survivors with housing, food and classes as well as assistance in transitioning to a safer life. They help the children in both school and legal settings as advocates in the children's time of need.
Pictured are Kathy Mitchell; Mary Ann Cerney; Ralph Cerney, Elk; Beverly Dufresne, President; and Judy Eaton. Not pictured is Suzanne Cunningham, who took the picture.
On Sept. 24, Field #1 at the Big Sun Soccer League Facility was abuzz with excitement as 16 members and guests of Ocala Elks Lodge #286 hosted the first Soccer Shoot in years. The day was filled with the thrill of competition, accompanied by the cheers of friends, family and Elk volunteers. Ranging in age from 8 to 15, 59 children showcased their talents, reminding everyone of the joy and excitement such long-standing events bring to the community. The first-place winners will go on to compete at the regional soccer shoot. Central to the Elks mission is a focus on youth development. The soccer shoot provided a platform for young players to hone their skills, learn the values of teamwork and perseverance, and experience the camaraderie intrinsic to the sport. The successful reintroduction of the Soccer Shoot represents one of the first steps the lodge leadership has taken to reestablish the lodge in the community.
Pictured is third place winner of his age category, Matthew C., with his family as well as kicking a ball. He is the grandson of Becky Long, PSP-FLOE and Andy Long, PDD.