Florida Elks News Editor:
Rachael King
Entire contents copyright 2023 by the
Florida State Elks Association Inc.
P.O. Box 49
Umatilla, FL 32784-0049

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On Feb. 11, Students Working Against Tobacco, Lake County’s branch of the national tobacco-use reduction group, in conjunction with the Eustis Lodge Drug Awareness program, had a table and interacted with more than 50 bingo players as they entered the lodge. The group gave away bags and other swag to the players. The lodge’s Drug Awareness program recently partnered with the group and will be holding more events at the lodge.

Pictured are a student and Sarah MacDonald, director.


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On Feb. 10, the Eustis Elks Lodge’s Anna Miller Circle sponsored the annual cake auction to raise funds for the Harry-Anna Trust Fund, which benefits Florida Elks Children's Therapy Services and the Florida Elks Youth Camp. More than 40 cakes, pies and desserts, pictured, were auctioned by Ron Locke, PDD while Beverly Dufresne, Anna Miller President, displayed the cakes and collected the donations, which totaled $2,839. While there are always female Elk members who participate, for the first time in 15 years, three male Elk members baked entries. Locke took a pie to the face to raise additional funds, as did Lauren DiLorenzo, Harry-Anna Trust Fund State Chair.


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On Jan. 10, Pensacola Beach Elks Lodge #497 donated $4,000 in lodge funds and a $2,000 Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to Outreach Navarre Inc. for the South Santa Rosa weekend food program. The program provides weekend food packages of meal and snack items to approximately 165 kids who participate in the free lunch program at their schools. Outreach Navarre was founded in August 2015 when two local mothers joined forces to help combat student hunger over the weekends in Navarre.

Pictured are Elks and program volunteers, Dan Smith, PER, lodge trustee; Mike Stahl, food program director; and Henry Lambert.


In November and December, Gainesville Elks Lodge #990 used its Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant and matching funds from the Harry-Anna Trust Fund and partnered with local charities to provide food to more than 225 families throughout the holidays.

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On Nov. 20, the lodge provided a turkey and $25 gift card to 36 foster families and single mothers through One More Child to help with a Thanksgiving meal. One More Child provides assistance to children who are hungry, in foster care or trafficked and to single mothers and struggling families in Alachua and surrounding counties. Pictured are Valerie Sanchez, licensing specialist; Mary Griffis, single moms supervisor; Melissa King, director of partnership; Lois Lembke, Gainesville administrative assistant; Dina Atalig, grant coordinator; and Brittany Sammons, supervisor foster care for Gainesville.

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On Dec. 18, the lodge gave Christmas gifts from an angel tree to residents in the Fern House at Tacachale, the oldest and largest community for Floridians with developmental disabilities.  

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On Dec. 20, the Lodge used grant funds to provide food to 22 families in need by partnering with Family Promise, a charity that helps provide shelters and food to families experiencing homelessness. Pictured Dec. 19 shopping for food at Walmart is Lecturing Knight, BJ Sullivan. Pictured delivering the food are Bobby Andreu, Exalted Ruler; BJ Sullivan; and BJ’s grandson, Damon Laboissoniere.

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On Dec. 21, the lodge again supported One More Child by providing hams for Christmas meals to 17 foster families and single mothers. Pictured are Melissa King, director of partnership; Lois Lembke, Gainesville administrative assistant; Demetri Semper, licensing supervisor; and Anne Chastain, northeast regional director of foster care staff.

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On Dec. 21, lodge volunteers provided food and assistance to the First Canaan United Methodist Church Christmas food drive in Waldo. Pictured are Rita Puentes, member; Dina Atalig, grant coordinator; Bobby Andreu, Exalted Ruler; Pastor Izzy; and BJ Sullivan, Lecturing Knight.


On Dec. 21, veteran Autumn, a recipient from Veterans Homeless to Home program (Secretary Linda Califf’s program), received a 20 lb. turkey from Publix with a $100 Walmart gift card for Christmas.

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On Dec. 22, the lodge donated 20 hams for veterans for Christmas meals and $50 Publix gift cards to the Honor Center in Gainesville, which provides programs for homeless veterans. Pictured are Dr. Jerry Sartain, VAVS representative, and Dina Atalig, grant coordinator.


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Jacksonville Elks Lodge #221 was contacted by Carley Stepien of Wheelchairs 4 Kids in October to help obtain a therapy tricycle for a 5-year-old Jonas from the Jacksonville area, who has cerebral palsy. It was not covered by medical insurance and his family could not afford it. By early December, a total of $2,920 was collected to pay for the tricycle in full. Donations came from Jacksonville, Orange Park, Gainesville, St. Augustine and Green Cove Springs lodges as well as personal donations from members. Lodge members Mark Thompson and Brent Reedy assembled the tricycle. On Dec. 20, Jacksonville Lodge held a small reception for the family to present the tricycle to Jonas. The Dillhyon family was so grateful for this gift. Rae Montgomery, physical therapist from Florida Elks Childrens Therapy Services, was there to show Jonas and his family how to use the tricycle and to explain its functions.

Pictured in the back row are Bill Dillhyon, father; Pat Harris, donor; Jerry (last name unavailable), Orange Park Lodge member; John Pipkins; Donnie Rowand, donor; and Brent Reedy, donor. In the second row are Cathy Rowand, donor; FECTS Rae Montgomery, PT; David Graham, Exalted Ruler and donor; and Kathy Glass. Down front: in the front row are Katie, sister; Jonas; and Amanda, mother. Also pictured is Jonas using the tricycle with direction from Rae Montgomery, PT.


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On Dec. 16, Sanford Lodge hosted its third annual Christmas for Kids event, with more than 100 children in attendance and 300 people in total. Local kids and their families enjoyed a pizza lunch, hot cocoa bar, crafts, cookie decorating, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. The children also received goody bags with a $10 Chic-Fil-A gift card. Members took photos of the event and portraits of the children with Santa, which were available to the families for free through their website. This event is budgeted through the lodge and members also donated funds for the event.

Pictured are Santa and Mrs. Claus receiving a warm welcome from a child, lodge members who worked the event, kids decorating cookies, Santa and Mrs. Claus showing off the drawings and ornaments made for them by the kids, the cookie decorating station, and an overall photo of the event.