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Florida Elks News Editor:
Rachael King
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Florida State Elks Association Inc.
P.O. Box 49
Umatilla, FL 32784-0049

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2781 fish hooks

On Aug. 15, Greater Pine Island Lodge donated $1,000 to F.I.S.H. (Fellow Islanders Sending Help) for its 22nd annual children’s clothing drive to provide school clothes and gym shoes for students whose parents anticipate having difficulty in providing new items for the 2022-2023 school year. F.I.S.H. is a group of local volunteers who help those in their community. The lodge also presented a $200 check to the Matlacha Hookers’ back-to-school supply drive, and members donated supplies as well. The Matlacha Hookers are a group of women whose motto is “Making a Positive Difference in our Community.”

Pictured are Jack Rovaldi, PER; Guy Vaughn, F.I.S.H. president; Karen Durand of Matlacha Hookers; Michael Stinson, Leading Knight; and Eddie Pfister, trustee.


2606 suicide

On Sept. 17, Punta Gorda Lodge hosted a fundraiser for suicide prevention in cooperation with the local Biker For Life organization. The proceeds of $2,500 were split evenly between Mission 22, which supports veterans, and the Society for the Suicide Prevention of Teen Suicide. The event was open to the public and included a lodge membership drive and vendors. Food was prepared by the lodge’s Chef Gary, and the American Made Band entertained the crowd. The lodge is grateful to the generous anonymous donors and to the event sponsor, Aladdin Air.

Pictured are William Oquendo, owner of Biker For Life and event organizer; Tom Shoecraft, Exalted Ruler; Virginia Oquendo, event coordinator; Walter LaCombe, PER Association president; and Michelle Staples, lodge member and lodge general manager.


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On Sept. 13, the Fort Myers Elks Lodge members and Ladies of Elks members made presentations to the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida. The Elks presented the organization a $2,000 check from the Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant and a bag of 100 heart pillows from Florida Elks Charities. Fort Myers Ladies of Elks presented a diapers and baby wipes that were collected from members and guests at the lodge during August. In addition, four handmade baby blankets were made and donated by Gail Mascari.

Pictured are Bob Weinberg, lodge board chair; Michelle Leonard, executive assistant to the CEO; and David Lake, PSP.

Also pictured are Dianne Conley, event chair; Michelle Leonard; and Connie Laubenthal, Fort Myers Ladies of Elks President.


2781 pilot

On Sept. 15, Greater Pine Island Lodge presented a $2,000 check from the Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to the Pine Island Leaders of Tomorrow (PILOT) so they could expand the number of students served and increase the number of days that the kids could attend the after-school program. PILOT is a free after-school enrichment program offered at Pine Island United Methodist Church. Its mission is to challenge the hearts and minds of Pine Island youth to encourage growth and excellence in vital areas such as critical thinking, responsibility, group dynamics and community involvement. Second through fifth grade students who attend Pine Island Elementary School are recommended by their teachers to take part in the program. Once students begin participating, the purpose is for them to remain in the program through high school graduation. Transportation and dinner are also provided at no cost to students.

Pictured are Judy Hopkins, PER; Karen Durand; Nicole and Paul Pichon, co-coordinators of PILOT; George Smith, PER; and Carol Jo Nelson, Drug Awareness Lodge Chair.


2010 cakes 1 2010 cakes 2

Naples Lodge coordinated and distributed baked cookies and cakes to first responders from Greater Naples Fire District #21 Sept. 11. Some of these baked goods came from the kitchens of lodge members with love and care. Cookies and cakes were also delivered to six substations in the Greater Naples Collier County Sheriff offices in the central dispatch offices.

Pictured are members Julie DeHaan and Brian Kamp. Also pictured are members Rae Frey, Gerry Massey, Jean Hartman, Brian Kamp and Julie DeHaan with three firefighters.


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Punta Gorda Elks Lodge #2606 held its annual kids’ fishing tournament June 11 on the fishing pier at the lodge. More than 75 children and their parents attended the event, which was open to the public. Trophies were awarded for the categories of smallest fish, largest fish, ugliest fish and most fish caught. Each child was given a rod, reel and backpack to keep, which were purchased from monetary donations received from Creative Carbide Inc., Aladdin Air, Integrity Employee Leasing, the Punta Gorda Elkettes and some lodge members. Other donations were received as well, including ball caps, aprons for volunteers, backpacks, trophies and booklets from the Punta Gorda Elkettes, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Athleta, Gulf Coast Engraving and the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Department. Forty lodge volunteers were on hand to cut bait, untangle lines and release fish. Afterward, everyone was served lunch provided by the lodge.

Pictured are fishing rods lined up for the participants and the participants walking out on the pier to find their special spot. Also pictured is Tom Shoecraft Sr., Exalted Ruler, presenting a trophy to Cohen Shoecraft, winner of the largest fish caught in the ages 6-10 category. In the background on the microphone is Michelle Staples, lodge member and the lodge corporation manager, and Linda Troemel, lodge member, cabin manager and assistant to the lodge corporation manager.


Punta Gorda Elks Lodge #2606 hosted another blood drive with One Blood July 14, organized by Ambrose Yelovich, PER, blood drive chair. This event had 22 donors, all lodge members. One pint saves three lives, so this day equated to 66 lives saved.


2710 campers 2710 campers2

Rotonda Elks Lodge #2710 paid for 19 children to attend the Florida Elks Youth Camp in Umatilla, Florida. Each camper’s fee was $220, and the lodge also paid for a T-shirt for each camper as well as a charter bus to transport them there. A grateful parent and volunteer nurse, Rebecca White, administered flu tests for the campers. Other helpful Elks were Kathy Dardis, Tami Watson and Geraldine Chesney.

Pictured July 17 before departing the lodge for the camp are the campers and lodge members who were chaperones on the bus — Nina Bentley; Cathy Redman, camp chairperson; Lee Hall; and Paul Bernhardt. Also pictured are parents saying goodbye to their children before they leave for camp.


2596 caring

On May 23, Cape Coral Elks Lodge #2596 donated $6,000 from its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to The Caring Center of Cape Coral. The grant will assist residents with paying their utility bills.

Pictured are Wanda Byrnes, Lecturing Knight; Bonnie Marshall, PER, Exalted Ruler; Wendy Wootton, program operations manager; Janet Murphy, Chaplain; and Mike Murphy, Leading Knight.


On March 31, Naples Elk Lodge #2010 applied for and received a charter for The Antlers, giving students ages 13 to 20 the opportunity to serve the lodge and their community. Mike Adamski, PER is advisor to the Antlers. On April 27, $1,000 scholarships were given to Antlers William Perry, Isabella Luccarelli and Trey Harry. Antlers officers are William Perry, president; Isabella LuccarelIi, first vice president; Christopher Savoie, second vice president; Trey Harry, third vice president; Hannah Perry, secretary; and Nico Luccarelli, treasurer.


           2606 erik  2606 lucia cropped

In May, the Punta Gorda Elks and Elkettes presented a total of 23 scholarships totaling $26,000 to students from two local high schools. The lodge presented 15 $1,000 scholarships, the Past Exalted Rulers Association presented two $1,000 scholarships, and the Elkettes presented six $1,500 scholarships. On May 14, the lodge held a luncheon to honor their Top Student of the Year, Lucia Rivadeneira, who received a scholarship from the Elkettes. The lodge had three scholarship winners from the Elks National Foundation as well. Shea Cencula and Summer Peterson each won a Legacy Scholarship which will give them $1,000 per year for four years. Erik Courtney won a Most Valuable Student Scholarship which will also give him $1,000 a year for four years.

Erik Courtney is pictured receiving his $4,000 Legacy Scholarship from Bud Bell, Elks National Foundation Scholarship Lodge Chair, Bud Bell, and Tom Shoecraft, Exalted Ruler. Lucia Rivadeneria is pictured receiving her $1,500 scholarship from Judy Schall, representing the Elkettes.


2710 lunch

On May 18, Rotonda Elks Lodge #2710 provided 30 lunches to the sheriff and deputies’ office on Wilmington Blvd. in Englewood, Florida, to thank them for a job well done.

Pictured are Kathy Dardis, Lecturing Knight; Dominick Ierpino; Melissa Jones; Sgt. Kaufman; John Blanchette, Loyal Knight; and RaeLynn Stevenson. Not pictured is Dianne Johnston.