Eustis Lodge held its annual first responder appreciation dinner and awards presentation Feb. 21. Multiple cities and departments were represented. Ron Locke, Exalted Ruler, awards Jeff Hosterman the Firefighter of the Year award, presented by Chief Richard Keith of the Tavares Fire Department. Locke awards Crystal Vicchiollo as Lake EMS Paramedic of the Year, recommended by her director, Jerry Smith.
On Feb. 21, the Anna Miller Circle of Eustis Lodge #1578 packed welcome kits at the lodge for The Haven of Lake and Sumter Counties, a shelter for women who have survived rape or abuse. They offer extensive programs to help survivors with housing, food and classes as well as assistance in transitioning to a safer and healthier life. They also help their children in both school and legal settings as advocates in the children's time of need. Eight Anna Miller members, one guest and one lodge member packed 150 adult welcome kits, 100 children's welcome kits and 28 birthday kits. The adult kits contain soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, deodorant and a razor. The children's kits contain soap, shampoo, conditioner, a children's toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, lip balm and a small toy. The birthday kits contain cake mix, frosting and candles so mothers can bake a cake for any child who is in the shelter on their birthday. This donation also contained blankets, coloring books and large cereal boxes plus 19 children's videos and 29 full-size items for use at the safe house. The value of this donation was $2,764.
Pictured packing (from left front around to front right) Mary Wilkins, Cindy Bennett, Marc Cunningham, Anna Boykin, Bonnie Smith, Jean Witt, Mary Ann Cerney and Joyce Denzer.
Vicki Mercadante is pictured packing birthday kits and counting full-size items.
Pictured with the packed kits are Anna Boykin, Marc Cunningham, Suzanne Cunningham, Joyce Denzer, Cindy Bennett, Bonnie Smith, Mary Wilkins, Vicki Mercadante, Jean Witt and Mary Ann Cerney.
On Feb. 5, the Eustis Anna Miller Circle 1578 held its yearly cake auction to benefit the Florida Elks major projects — the Florida Elks Youth Camp and Florida Elks Children's Therapy Services. Those in attendance included lodge members and Florida Elks attending the Florida State Elks quarterly meeting. Ron Locke, PDD, Exalted Ruler, acted as auctioneer. The auction raised $2,550, which was presented to Dayna Miller, State Harry-Anna Trust Fund Chair.
Pictured is the display of cakes baked by the Anna Miller Circle members.
On Dec. 21, Winter Garden Elks Lodge #2165 used its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to donate clothing, tents, tarps, hygiene items and food for the guests of Matthews Hope, a homeless ministry. These items will be given out over the next several months to more than 150 men, women and children. A hot meal was also prepared and served to 70 guests.
Pictured are Ellen Snyder, Lecturing Knight; Megan Reish; Ed Colon, Exalted Ruler; Pam DePriest; Ralph Moore; and Scott Billue, lodge member and founder of Matthews Hope. Children and grandchildren of lodge members also helped.
Using lodge funds, Winter Garden Elks purchased and donated 50 dictionaries to third graders at Ocoee Elementary School. Pictured Sept. 22 are Pam DePriest, member; Natalie Hatch, wife of member Wally Hatch, PER; and Kandace Goshe, principal.
On Sept. 18, Winter Garden Elks Lodge #2165 hosted a baby shower at the lodge for 15 mothers on low incomes using the Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant. Each mother received a case of diapers, a case of wipes, four books and a variety of other baby items. Pictured are Carolyn Robbins, Esteemed Leading Knight; Kendall Croft, daughter of members Billy and Lesley Croft; Pam DePriest, member; and Ed Colon, Exalted Ruler.
On Aug. 20, Eustis Elks Lodge’s Anna Miller Circle packed welcome kits for those at The Haven of Lake and Sumter Counties, who are their usual grateful recipients, but during this session, they also packed kits for the Brotherhood Riders who stopped at the lodge Aug. 23 on their way to New York City to honor 2020’s fallen heroes as well as everyone who died from Sept. 11 causes. Seven ladies and one Elk packed 100 adult kits and 50 children's kits along with 11 birthday cake packages of cake mix, frosting and candles for children who are in safe housing during their birthday. The adult kits include soap, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, mouthwash, toothpaste, floss and a toothbrush. The children's kits include shampoo, soap, toothpaste, children's toothbrush, hand sanitizer, a tissue pack, lip balm and a small toy. The value of The Haven donation was $1,569. The Haven of Lake and Sumter Counties provides a safe haven for women who have been abused and their children as well as for rape survivors and teens. They offer an extensive program to help survivors both with housing, food and classes as well as assistance in transitioning to a safer and healthier life. They advocate for the children in school and legal settings. For the riders, 67 kits were packed and contained soap, shampoo, deodorant, shaver, shave cream, hand sanitizer, a travel toothbrush, mouthwash and toothpaste. This donation was valued at $670. Pictured are Darlene Hall, Kristina Cline and Vicki Mercante, co-chair of The Haven Project. Also pictured are Anna Miller Circle member Shearon Jones and a Brotherhood Rider.
For the ninth consecutive year, Inverness Lodge held its Backpacks for Success program for local students. The program supplies backpacks loaded with grade-specific school supplies to the children supported by the Citrus County Foster Parent Association and 20 to area schools through their guidance departments. The lodge used its $2,500 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to purchase the backpacks and supplies, and more than 300 hours of labor were provided by lodge members and helpers. In total, 170 backpacks were delivered to the Citrus County foster families and 20 schools in Citrus County and Dunnellon in time for the start of the new school year Aug. 10. Inverness Elks believe that a community that supports its children raises citizens who grow up to support their community. Pictured are Frank Baranco; Richard Grosnick, PER; Dick Bass; Judy Horton; Craig Ingram; Carol Ingram; Sally Torres and Ed Torres.
On Aug. 9, the Inverness Elks Lodge bingo committee donated $1,000 to Citrus County Abuse Shelter Association (CASA). CASA representative Sunshine Arnold spoke to the bingo players, explaining in detail all the aspects of the shelter and how much of a difference these funds will make in the lives of those already impacted with struggles. Pictured are John Colasanti, Jim Bell, Sally Torres, Rick Mechley, CASA’s Sunshine Arnold, Nancy O’Malley, Lana Almeida, Tim Hughes and Jack Trafalski.
The Winter Park Lodge Flag Day observance was held June 13 with the Naval ROTC officers from Lake Howell High School. Booster Club parents Katie and Dan Coleman and seven officers supported the lodge’s ritual. Pianist, Tom Horrobin, is a teacher at the school and provided the assembly with music for the ritual. There was a gathering afterward with members of the ROTC team and lodge officers and members. The high school has long had a reciprocal relationship with the Elks.
To raise funds for the Elks National Foundation and the Harry-Anna Trust Fund, Winter Park Lodge’s Ron Goluba, PER and Sue Jovi created a raffle and asked members and guests to donate Elk memorabilia or to buy chances. The raffle included lodge pins, a gavel, cuff links, ties and antlers as well as historic Elks items such as a Jim Beam commemorative flask, an “OLD ELK” bottle and gold foil-wrapped Elk droppings. Pictured at the April 23 drawing are winners Rick Wirth, PER and his wife, Sandra. The fundraiser totaled $1,200 for the charities.
The Anna Miller Circle of Eustis Elks Lodge #1578 has resumed packing welcome kits for The Haven of Lake and Sumter Counties. Six Anna Miller volunteers and one Elk volunteer met April 4 to pack 100 adult and 50 children's welcome kits. The Haven is a shelter for women who have been abused as well as for their children. It is also a shelter for teens and survivors of rape. The kits contain soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, moisturizer and deodorant. The children's kits also contain a small toy and hand sanitizer. A welcome kit is given to each woman and child when they arrive at The Haven safe house. Eighty full-size toiletries were donated as well. The packing also contained 12 birthday kits which include a cake mix, frosting and candles to be used by mothers to bake a cake for their child who has a birthday while at the shelter. The day’s donations totaled $1,800.
Pictured are volunteers Chris Getchell, president; Vicki Mercandente, co-chair of The Haven Project; Marc Cunningham, lodge member; Mary Ann Cerney; Judith Polson; and Judi McCarroll. Taking the picture is Suzanne Cunningham, co-chair of The Haven Project.