Deputy Ben Jones and K-9 Gentry were honored Dec. 21 at the Highlands County Sheriff's Office with the first responder-law enforcement award by Sebring Lodge. They were honored for their record of good work, particularly their role in the seizure of 554 grams of heroin, 450 grams of cocaine, 99.6 grams of fentanyl and more than 1,000 illegal prescription pills during a traffic stop. The total seizure was worth $120,000 on the street. Pictured are Judy Hanson, PER; Wainetta Holmes, Exalted Ruler; Deputy Jones and Gentry; Sheriff Paul Blackman; and K-9 Unit Sgt. Scott Williams. His mother, sister and two brothers attended as well.
Arcadia Elks Lodge #1524 used its $3,500 Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to purchase food for those in need this holiday season. A drive-thru food drive was held Dec. 19 at the lodge, and for those who had no transportation, groceries were delivered to their homes. Jackie Hughes, PER, trustee, said, “It was a beautiful day and so rewarding! Numerous Elks helped with the shopping, bagging food and distributing everything. What a terrific turnout.”
Brandon Lodge held its annual event chaired by Marionette Sexton, Loyal Knight, in which members adopt children of families to shop for items on their wish list as well as for clothing, shoes and toys. Any money donated by members is used to purchase these additional gifts. This year, 12 families with a total of 25 children in need of a merry Christmas were adopted by members. This event is a tradition for the lodge that members look forward to each year as a way to be involved with the families in their community. The lodge also makes sure a complete Christmas dinner is provided to each family. On Dec. 16 to the backdrop of Christmas music played by a volunteer DJ, members wrapped the gifts. Once everything was wrapped and the dinners were put together for delivery, some of the families stopped by to pick up their packages and to interact with the members. The other families’ packages were delivered to them by Sexton and other members. “It truly was a joyful event watching members wrapping the gifts, talking about their own Christmas festivities and memories. You can feel the joy of making sure a child’s Christmas wishes come true. It just feels like Christmas!” says Mary Lou Scribner, PER, lodge member and District Reporter. Sexton’s grandchildren attended the event to wrap gifts and help wherever needed. “What a great way to teach our youth, our future Elks, to be involved and volunteer in their community and to help bring happiness to anyone in need,” Scribner adds. Pictured are member Linda Craft with her grandchildren.
On Dec. 19, Lakeland Lodge held its annual Boys and Girls Club Christmas party while practicing safe social distancing and mask-wearing by everyone. The event included games, crafts, pony rides, fishing, tattoos, a pizza lunch, and a visit from Elroy the Elk and Santa. Funds of $1,500 from the Elks National Foundation and donations from members were used for this event. The lodge gave gifts to the 27 children who attended, and members also provided more than $2,000 worth of gifts and toys from participating in the lodge’s Angel Tree. Pictured are members Carl Hutchcraft and Alice Murray helping with crafts and John McArthur aka Elroy.
Lakeland Lodge also provided much needed assistance for the Toys for Tots Drive. They collected batteries and donated $1,500.
Each October, Lakeland Lodge’s focus is breast cancer awareness. This year due to the coronavirus pandemic, they were unable to hold their annual Puttin’ on the Pink fundraiser, but that didn’t stop them from supporting the cause. During October, they sold pink ribbons and pink diamonds and raised $2,900 for Hollis Cancer Center for breast cCancer patients to help defray their costs.
In November, Lakeland Elks Lodge #1291, the home lodge of the Brotherhood Riders, held an auction fundraiser and raised $12,000 for families of fallen first responders.
The grandchild of a Lake Placid Elks Lodge member asked the board members for a donation to plan a celebration for all the teams, cheerleaders, coaches and volunteers involved with Lake Placid Youth sports which are offered by the community for those who want to participate in seasonal sports. The lodge agreed to donate hot dogs, buns, chips, sodas and bottled water for everyone. On Nov. 10, six lodge members hosted the party on the field after the final games. The coaches and some parents pictured are volunteers and give their time to work with the children in the community.