On Feb. 13, Fort Walton Elks Lodge #1795 donated $1,250 to the local youth organization Future Stars Football Clinic (FSFC), which serves the Fort Walton Beach area to develop youths ages 6 to 13. The objective of the structured nine-week clinic, which balances fun, rigorous training and mentorship to produce a positive learning environment, is to instill self-confidence via participant sports safety and fundamentals. FSFC also creates an environment in which children not only integrate as a team through sport but as a community via two community service events. The lodge donation will help purchase greatly needed sports equipment, which will help the youths train harder, more efficiently and safely. FSFC believes sports are a great way to build character, self-esteem, sportsmanship and leadership skills. Christopher Torres, CEO/coach, has grown this program to a new level and will serve several hundred kids in their introduction to sports and fair play.
Pictured are Paul Eubanks, PER, lodge board chair; Kathy Pacheco, lodge trustee; Marcia WrightReynolds, Lecturing Knight; Michael “Taz” WrightReynolds, PER, Exalted Ruler; Chris Torres, CEO/coach; Tom Knowles, PER; Dusty Austin, lodge trustee; Rob Parks, Loyal Knight; Kevin Clemons, PDD, District Leader; and Tom McLaughlin, Leading Knight.
On Feb. 7, Holley-Navarre Elks Lodge #2787 donated $600 to support the operations of the Navarre Youth Sports Association (NYSA) complex. NYSA has been a longtime supporter of the community and supporter of the Elks Hoop Shoot, where local and regional events have taken place. The NYSA is a nonprofit all-volunteer organization. The athletes can enjoy participating in several different sports at both the recreational and competitive level year-round. The NYSA strives to teach children of the Holley-Navarre community good sportsmanship, honesty, courage and respect so they may be well-adjusted, stronger and happier children. There are no residency requirements to join the NYSA or to participate in the programs.
Pictured are TJ Carey, Exalted Ruler, and Canna Ellerbe, Navarre Youth Sports Association office manager.
On Jan. 31, Holley-Navarre Elks Lodge #2787 donated $1,000 to Healing Paws for Warriors, an organization dedicated to providing service dogs for relief to combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma through rescue-to-trained ADA-certified service dogs. Their motto is “Bringing Awareness to Veteran Suicide — Reducing the Numbers One Service Dog at a Time.”
Pictured are Ann Riley, member; Mike Arena, Healing Paws for Warriors representative; TJ Carey, Exalted Ruler; and Chip, a service dog.
Holley-Navarre Lodge donated $1,000 Feb. 15 to support the Billory Baptist Church Bread of Life food pantry and clothing closet. The pantry and closet helps dozens of families and individuals weekly.
Pictured are Angelo Santiago and Rina Longmire, pantry volunteers; TJ Carey, Exalted Ruler; and Heather and Jim White, food pantry coordinators.
On Feb. 8, Holley-Navarre Lodge donated $1,500 to support the Holley-Navarre Primary School’s weekend backpack food program. The program feeds more than 100 children considered food-insecure, meaning they often do not know where their next meals will come from. Children living in such families may worry about school breaks because they rely on the meals they receive in school for their daily sustenance. This backpack food program provides meals during the weekend breaks.
Pictured are Krista Robinson, Leading Knight; TJ Carey, Exalted Ruler; Tonya Lancieri, assistant principal; and Libby Blackwood, lodge manager.
On Feb. 17, Pensacola Beach Elks Lodge #497 donated $5,000 to the Northwest Florida Salvation Army from the lodge's charity account.
Pictured are Cap Pratt, PDD, trustee, and Mattie Broxton, Salvation Army social services coordinator in Milton, Florida.
On Feb. 25, Fort Walton Elks Lodge #1795 presented a $500 donation to the award-winning Choctawhatchee High School track team, as they continue their winning season with the goal of returning to the Florida High School Sports Association (FHSAA) finals.
Pictured are athletes Wynter Downs, Ariana Gonzalez and Cole Tabb; Coach Courtland Fuller; Kathy Pacheco, lodge trustee; and athletes Kaleb Hollins and Owen Burks.
Pensacola Beach Lodge donated $3,000 from its charity account to Pensacola Beach Elementary School to help pay for rebuilding the school’s elevated walkways.
Pictured are Dan Smith, lodge trustee, and Susan McLeod, school principal.
On Oct. 24, a $2,000 Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant was awarded by Pensacola Beach Lodge to the Gulf Breeze Weekend Food Program. The grant will provide two weeks of weekend food packages for 135 school kids in need in Santa Rosa County, Florida.
Pictured are Mike Stahl, lodge member and program director; Dan Smith, PER, trustee; and lodge members Ron Steiner and Henry Lambert.
On Oct. 22, Fort Walton Elks Lodge #1795 presented Florida Elks State President, Danny Tabor, with two checks for the Harry-Anna Trust Fund in the amount of $908 each. One was for the Harry-Anna Trust Fund general fund and one was earmarked for the Northwest Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services (FECTS) district therapist, Elizabeth Mania, for equipment, gear and tools to conduct therapy with the assigned therapy clients. Funds totaling $1,816 were raised at the lodge’s first and very successful Oktoberfest Sept. 24.
Pictured are Danny Tabor, State President; Jamie Clemons, Lodge Secretary; Michael “Taz” WrightReynolds, PER, Exalted Ruler; Collen Gallant, FECTS Director; and Kevin Clemons, PDD, Northwest District Leader.
On Oct. 26, Fort Walton Elks Lodge #1795 presented the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) with a check for $500 to use for making major changes both internally and externally to improve operations and general animal welfare and to increase community services. The donation has gone toward construction improvement projects, including adding power lines throughout the facility and providing needed safety lighting and increased air conditioning to all canine-occupied kennels. A major renovation is underway to tear down and replace the canine kennels on the campus that have been worn and torn over the decades-long tenure and thousands of animals housed. The Okaloosa County PAWS has taken in more than 2,000 lost, abandoned, abused and neglected pets in 2022. Of these, 281 of those dogs and cats were reunited with their owners. There have been 1,024 dogs and cats re-homed to responsible pet owners through the PAWS adoption program. Okaloosa County also has a large number of PAWS rescue partners who took in more than 450 pets to be adopted through their programs which allows for the additional space at PAWS to save more lives.
Pictured are Michael “Taz” WrightReynolds, PER, Exalted Ruler; Michelle Thorson of PAWS with Gladys from PAWS, who has since found her forever rescue home; Mark Wynn, Inner Guard; Marcia WrightReynolds, Lecturing Knight; Tom McLaughlin, Leading Knight; Rob Parks, Loyal Knight; and Ashley DeGraaf, PAWS executive director.