Nine Eustis Anna Miller Circle members and four Eustis Lodge Elks met March 29 to pack a $4,397 donation for The Haven of Lake and Sumter Counties. The donation included 277 adult welcome kits and 118 children's welcome kits. The Haven, a shelter for abused women and their children as well as teens and rape survivors, provides a welcome kit of toiletries to each new client when they arrive at the shelter. The children's kits also contain hand sanitizer, a small toy and lip balm. In addition to the kits, this packing also included 69 items for school children, 17 birthday cake packets for children who find themselves in safe housing on their birthday, and 169 full-size toiletries.
Winter Park Elks Lodge #1830 is sponsoring 10 camperships at $180 each for children to attend a summer session at the Florida Elks Youth Camp. The lodge also purchased two tables at the Florida State Elks Association Harry-Anna Trust Unmasking Autism Gala of Hope at $2,500 each and was a gold sponsor for the softball tournament.
Patsy Despain, Eustis Lodge Exalted Ruler, presents a $500 scholarship to Bionca Young for her LPN certification earned at Lake Tech State College. Pictured with them are Bill Stomp of the Eustis Lodge scholarship committee and Kimberly Frazier, Dean of Student Services at Lake Tech.
On March 2, Winter Garden Elks Lodge #2165 held a fundraiser at the lodge for Orlando, Fla., police officer Kevin Valencia. He was shot in the line of duty June 18, 2018, while responding to a domestic violence call in which the suspect killed four children and then himself. Valencia had been at Good Shephard Hospital in Atlanta for treatment for his head injuries but was recently brought back home to Orlando to an undisclosed facility so he could be closer to his family. His recovery does not have a very promising future. He has a wife and two young children. The lodge fundraiser included barbecue dinners, raffles, and private donations and raised $21,000 for his family to help with the ongoing costs that they will have for a very long time.
Inverness Elks Lodge #2522 held their award presentation March 1 for Ava Rueck, winner of the state Drug Awareness essay contest. Ava is a sixth-grader at Lecanto Middle School. She and her family were invited to the lodge for dinner and the award presentation of a Kindle Fire, a framed certificate and a $50 check.
Pictured at the presentation at Inverness Lodge March 1 for the state Drug Awareness essay contest winner are George Sevast Jr., North Central District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler; Jim Manos, Inverness Lodge Drug Awareness Chairman; Ava Rueck, essay winner; and Bill McAvay, Exalted Ruler.
On Feb. 11, Eustis Elks Lodge #1578 donated $2,883 for Lake Hills School of Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., to purchase a pacer gait trainer which assists in training children who are wheelchair-bound to use their legs with the possible outcome of walking. Pictured at the check presentation are Patsy Despain, Exalted Ruler; Robin Meyers, principal; Brandy Brown, school PTA; Dee and Bo Borwegen, lodge members; and a Lake Hills student.
Inverness Elks Lodge #2522 presented their annual $1,000 donation to Citrus United Basket Inc. (C.U.B.). Pictured are Mike Orndorf, Loyal Knight; Juanita Emerick, lodge trustee; Kelly Selph, Citrus United Basket Executive Director; and Richard Grosnick, Leading Knight. C.U.B. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created in 1978 to assist Citrus County families facing temporary hardship.
Winter Park Elks Lodge members provided Christmas gifts to 82 children who are in need or homeless. PER Vivian Thomas worked closely with Casselberry Elementary School principal, Mallory Holliday, who provided lodge members with the names, ages and sizes of the school's children in need along with their siblings. Members and volunteers shopped, wrapped, bagged and delivered the gifts to the school prior to the school's holiday break.
Delivering Christmas gifts to children in need at Casselberry Elementary are Ed Eldridge; Bill Cashion; Roberta Mills; PER Ron Goluba; Sue Jovi; assistant principal, Mary Walters-Clark; principal, Mallory Holliday; and Cam Mills.
Four-year trustee, Juanita Emrich, and PER Mike Orndorff represented Inverness Lodge in the decoration of a Christmas tree as part of the adopt-a-tree initiative under the direction of the Citrus County Parks and Recreation.
Inverness Lodge held its 2018-2019 Hoop Shoot contest Dec. 15 at the Inverness Middle School gym. There were 25 contestants representing Hernando, Central Ridge, Floral City, Pleasant Grove and Forest Ridge elementary schools and Inverness Middle School. Winners were Noah Meyer, boys ages 8-9; Rohan Patel, boys ages 10-11; Mark Covino, boys ages 12-13; Kasidee Florio, girls ages 8-9; Bryleigh Florio, girls ages 10-11; and Jenna Anderson, girls ages 12-13. Winners advance to the district competition in Tavares.
On Dec. 16, Inverness and West Citrus lodges hosted a holiday party for the children and foster families of the Citrus County Foster Parent Association. This is the fourth year that these lodges have completed the event. West Citrus Lodge provided the venue and the dinner; Inverness Lodge used the Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to purchase gifts for the children. Inverness Lodge also provided the entertainment. Herbie Yates served as DJ, Mike Souci debuted as Santa and Jan Belland was Mrs. Claus. Tonya DeRose worked her magic with professional face-painting. Elk volunteers from both lodges worked diligently to make sure the families and children had a great holiday event.
On Dec. 15, Eustis Lodge held a Christmas party for Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services patients and others. Children made crafts and had fun on wooden horses. Bill Hall read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” Santa Claus and his elf came to hand out gifts, and characters from the Star Wars movies took pictures with the guests.