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Florida Elks News Online

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District Reporter: Courtney Weil, PER

Jukebox Bingo Fundraiser held at St. Petersburg Lodge for Music Sweet Music Inc.

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St. Petersburg Elks Lodge #1224 donated the use of its hall (a $500 value) to Music Sweet Music Inc. (MSM), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that helps children and adults with disabilities reach none-musical goals such as speech, hand-eye coordination, and increase of range of motion as well as assisting with many other disabilities and disorders by contract board-certified music therapists. The chair for the event was St. Petersburg Lodge member May Graci who also volunteers with MSM. The fundraiser was a jukebox bingo that lasted two hours with attendees winning donated prizes each time their musical bingo card won. Lodge member Kat Chaplin donated a handmade quilt. Over 110 people attended the event and over $2,000 was raised.

Pictured at the Music Sweet Music fundraiser held at St. Petersburg Lodge are Nuala Cunard, 2nd Vice President of Music Sweet Music Inc.; Theodore Wagner, President and founder; and May Graci, chairman and volunteer for the event.


Easter Baskets Donated to The Sanderlin Center by St. Petersburg Elks

St. Petersburg Lodge donated 25 Easter baskets to The Sanderlin Center, a nonprofit agency located in south St. Petersburg, Fla. The center’s focus areas are family, education, arts, economics, employment, positive values, and health and wellness. The Easter baskets were put together with a wide variety of holiday candies, stuffed animals and other items to be inclusive of the different age groups serviced at the agency, including teens.


Gala of Hope Guest Speakers Sponsored by St. Petersburg Lodge

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The PER Association of St. Petersburg Elks Lodge #1224 sponsored and purchased the tickets for the attendance of Geneva Hall and Delaney Hall to the Harry-Anna Trust Unmasking Autism Gala of Hope April 13. The event was held at the Carillon Hilton in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Spectrum Bay News 9 morning anchor Erica Riggins was the Mistress of Ceremonies.

Geneva Hall has been a member of St. Petersburg Lodge and a very active volunteer since 2005. She is Delaney’s mother and Delaney has Asperger syndrome. Asperger syndrome is a condition considered to be a high-functioning form of autism. Delaney was 17.5 years old when she was officially diagnosed with this syndrome, a journey that started for Geneva when Delaney was 14 months old.

Geneva was honored to speak about autism, her journey and Florida Elk Charities at the gala. When Delaney was a sixth-grader, Geneva no longer had the financial security or the insurance to cover Delaney’s therapies for her developmental delay. In 2007, Geneva remembered the video she saw during her initiation two years before – the Elks have a physical therapy program! Geneva inquired at her lodge if she could receive these services for her daughter. After a few phone calls, Delaney was enrolled, and the Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services therapist Larry Lester came to their house according to Geneva’s time and schedule as a single working mom. Delaney completed the program and by the end was much more confident in her physical self. This service allowed Delaney to continue to have her much-needed speech therapy and eased the financial burden that Geneva had to carry. 

Delaney also spoke at the gala: “The experience enabled me to have the confidence to decide to compete in bocce, bowling and basketball skills for Special Olympics. Today I am proud to be an Athlete Leader for Special Olympics. I have two jobs – as an administrative assistant and I have autism. More and more children are diagnosed with autism and educating you about inclusion is important. My mom always gives me positive thoughts, and this is one of my favorites. It’s not what you go through in life. It’s how you react to it.”


Tampa Lodge uses Impact Grant to Purchase Laptops for Students

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For the fourth year, Tampa Lodge received a $5,000 Elks National Foundation Impact Grant. This year, they used this grant to provide 20 new laptops to be utilized in Ms. Chowning’s classroom by the members of Club Chivalry for Success who don’t have technology available at home. These computers will be used for the mandatory online class requirement and to research and apply for scholarships as well as for everyday schoolwork.

Tampa Lodge members Tony Marino, Patty Jankiewicz, Rita Smith (program director), Christopher Ragusa, Bonnie Atwood, Nikki Murphy, Bob Suhrheinrich, and Jacqui LoCicero (front left) present laptops to Club Chivalry school sponsor, Kristina Chowning.


Tampa Lodge Treats Teens to Fun-filled Day Out

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Using part of the Elks National Foundation Promise Grant, Tampa Elks Lodge #708 treated 16 teens to a day of fun that included a boat trip around Tampa Bay, lunch at a restaurant and playing video games. Inner Guard Taylor Taylor planned the day and the teens were invited to help found Tampa's Antler Club. The event was open to all the kids the lodge had a connection with and the lodge was able to take all who were interested. The teens were from local Tampa Bay middle and high schools including homeschooled students. They included campers that the lodge had sponsored and kids who had attended lodge events such as the back-to-school party and Christmas party.

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Seminole Elks Holds Instrument Drive for SOHF

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Seminole Elks Lodge #2519 held their first West Central Florida Spirit of Harmony Foundation instrument drive at the lodge. Their mission is to provide opportunities for personal development and self-expression through the support of music and music education. The event brought in approximately 60 attendees and a multitude of instruments were donated.


St. Petersburg Lodge Donates to Optimist Club

On March 2, the St. Petersburg Ladies of Elks brought back the 1950s for a midwinter sock hop featuring the 1950s group the Impacs who were Florida’s No. 1 rock & roll band in the era and represented the Tampa Bay area all over the U.S. on the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars. The servers for this occasion were members of St. Petersburg’s Optimist Club who are dedicated to aiding those less fortunate than themselves in the community by assisting community programs and providing guest speakers to give members the opportunity to learn, grow and improve themselves. Members and attendees were proud to present to them $300 to assist them with their various community projects.


St. Petersburg Lodge Donates to Softball Team that had Equipment Stolen

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During the 108th anniversary celebration at St. Petersburg Lodge and its variety show event Feb. 16, the Dixie Hollins Rebels softball team members acted as servers. The lodge offers high school clubs, teams and other nonprofits the ability to earn community service hours, learn life skills and have the opportunity to interact with a diverse demographic. The Rebels’ team swapped places with other schools in the lodge’s volunteer lineup because of the team’s immediate need. The Rebels’ softball team was in fundraising mode because they recently discovered that their field maintenance equipment had been stolen from their secured concrete storage unit during their off-season. It cost them $500 to replace the stolen equipment and they had to borrow from money raised for their other needs such as travel and sports equipment. Exalted Ruler, Cathy Shriver, presented Coach Robin Brady with $406 received in donations from lodge and family members attending the evening’s event.

Pictured at the St. Petersburg Lodge donation presentation Feb. 16 to the Dixie Hollins Rebels softball team to help defray costs of stolen equipment are Alecia Buanisky; Alyson Lucas; Hawaii Grimes Layner, parent; Braelyn Grimes; Cathy Shriver, Exalted Ruler; and Robin Brady, Rebels softball coach.


Tampa Lodge Christmas Party Attendees Give Back with Cards

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A children's Christmas party took place Dec. 22 at Tampa Lodge. There was pizza, cookie-decorating, entertainment by Miz Daisy and lots of presents donated by very generous south Tampa residents at their local Walgreens. The children also made cards for the Paradise Elks Lodge that was recently destroyed by the California fires.


Tampa Lodge's Club Chivalry Spends Day at Florida Elks Youth Camp

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On Dec. 6, Tampa Lodge’s Club Chivalry took their annual teambuilding field trip to the Florida Elks Youth Camp. The students were offered pastries and breakfast beverages to enjoy as they left Tampa. When they arrived at the camp, the students were each given a long-sleeve T-shirt as their Christmas present. After a game of kickball and lunch, they went to the ropes course. The camp provided activity directors for the afternoon, and they started the teambuilding with low exercises. Eventually the students added helmets to their gear and took to the air. They did the high swing, climbed a challenging tower and catapulted down, and climbed the rock wall. The group left the camp around 5 p.m., had dinner on the way home and sang Christmas carols on the bus.


Tampa Elks and Friends Serve Christmas Dinner at Open Arms Ministry

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On Dec. 23, Tampa Elks continued their use of their Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant to provide a Christmas brunch for about 170 homeless men and women at the Open Arms Ministry at Hyde Park United Methodist Church. In addition to the brunch, clients were offered free haircuts and there were intake counselors from the VA and from Metropolitan Ministries on hand. Their partners at Open Arms had the room decorated beautifully with poinsettias. There was also a table full of homemade gifts like scarves, mittens and beanie caps to distribute to the homeless. The Elks had purchased the food in a marathon shopping spree a week earlier but were unable to set up a prep date due to schedule conflicts, so the Tampa Elks team of PER Courtney Weil and Elk family members Adrian Higgins and Douglas Grant arrived very early to prep and cook and had the meal ready by 8 a.m. There were more than 15 offerings on the table and clients could come back for seconds or a carry-out after everybody had been served. The Elks had plenty of staffing including Legacy scholarship recipients Evan and Andrew Wyatt as well as several parent/child teams who had been to the children’s Christmas party the day before.


St. Petersburg Lodge Provides Christmas Dinners to 300 Families

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On Dec. 21, St. Petersburg Lodge’s team of volunteers spearheaded by Christmas food drive chairman, Rudy Masi Sr., PDD, put together 300 Christmas dinner boxes which contained a complete Christmas dinner for a family of four to six people. Also included in each box was a $20 gift card from Publix for a ham or turkey. The lodge used the $2,500 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant, the $2,000 Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant and the $1,500 Elks National Foundation Anniversary Grant to purchase the food. Members donated an additional $630-worth of food. With the cost of the gift cards, a total donation of $8,203.74 was made to the 300 families in their community. The volunteers delivered some of the boxes to families in need whose names had been submitted to the lodge and to Heaven on Earth for Veterans whose mission is to alleviate Pinellas County veteran homelessness by providing quality, low-cost, safe living spaces. The remaining boxes went to 38th Avenue Baptist Church to be delivered through their indigent family care list.


Louisiana State Legislature Increases New Orleans Hotel Occupancy Tax

The Legislature of the State of Louisiana has acted to increase the New Orleans Hotel Occupancy Tax from 13% to 14.75% effective April 1, 2014. This will affect our convention room rates and they will go from $128.56 to $130.52 per night.

Convention Attendees With ADA Transportation Needs Urged To Contact Grand Lodge

In order for the Grand Lodge to support the transportation needs of attendees with disabilities you are urged to contact the Grand Lodge if you require special assistance. Special coaches capable of kneeling to accommodate wheel chairs will be placed along the routes for those in need. If you require assistance please contact Tina or Jessica at the Grand Lodge as follows:


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