On March 11, Fort Walton Lodge participated in the first Neighborhood Safety Day at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. This was a free event for the whole community, and approximately 200 people attended. Various safety groups were represented. The Elks spoke to more than 100 parents, guardians and children about the Elks Drug Awareness program, the Florida Elks Youth Camp and Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services. The Elks passed out drug awareness literature, red ribbons, balloons, and coloring books to help children learn about the dangers of drugs and the value of being wise and drug-free. The Okaloosa County Health Department fitted and gave out 64 bicycle helmets.
Pictured are Michael “Taz” WrightReynolds, PER, Exalted Ruler; Paul Eubanks, PER; and Kathy Pacheco, trustee. WrightReynolds is also pictured with “Sparky” the Fire Safety Dog.
On Feb. 14, Orlando Lodge held a Valentine’s Day dinner, dance and fundraiser with One Heart for Women & Children, an organization located in Orlando, Florida, that offers a food pantry, thrift store, and outreach program for those experiencing homelessness. The event was planned and executed with the help of the Past Exalted Rulers and the Activities Committee. Diane Politi, event chair, worked with Stephanie Bowman, One Heart’s president and founder, and Barbara Kenney, a community leader and One Heart board member. One Heart donated nearly 40 items for the silent auction. AARP contributed long-stem roses for the ladies. Kathy Lewis, violinist, greeted guests with her beautiful violin music. Member Carl Motes photographed all who wanted pictures. The Past Exalted Rulers planned the meal; shopped for groceries; took a food handler’s class from Pom Moongauklang, Lecturing Knight and local restaurant owner; and cooked the meal. The event raised $5,200, which was split between the lodge account and One Heart for Women & Children. One Heart’s portion will benefit women and children in Central Florida who are homeless, providing food and shelter for them.
Pictured are Diane Politi, event chair, and Stephanie Bowman, president and founder of One Heart for Women & Children. Pictured in the kitchen are Past Exalted Rulers Roger Bristol, Mike McClay and Tony Schiappa.
Stuart-Jensen Lodge used its $1,000 Elks National Foundation Freedom Spark Grant to purchase much-needed small appliances for Emerald V, a privately owned home for veterans in Stuart near the lodge. The lodge supplemented the grant with $1,000 from its charity bingo, so they could purchase all the items needed, including small refrigerators, microwaves and a few electric skillets for veterans’ rooms.
Pictured at the appliance delivery Jan. 26 are Toni Sutherland, Emerald V manager; Alice Hurd, lodge Treasurer; Bob Alphonse, Exalted Ruler; Don Simpson Sr., Loyal Knight; and Ralph Newlon, Marine Corp League Detachment member. The Marine Corp League meets at the lodge at no charge and partners with the lodge on some projects.
On Feb. 6, Tampa Lodge members visited the Academy of the Holy Names (AHN) rowing team at their riverfront home away from home at the Julian B. Lane Boathouse. Members visited the facility and delivered a $500 donation made from part of the lodge's Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant. While there are some single rower competitions, their emphasis is on success through teamwork. Students from the rowing team had assisted lodge members with feeding those who are homeless at 7 a.m. the Sunday before Thanksgiving and then helped them wrap hundreds of toys for those in need the week before Christmas.
Pictured with the team are Irene Harlow, lodge chaplain; Robert Orcutt, trustee; and Paul DeLand, PER.
On Feb. 19, Sebastian Lodge hosted its 19th annual car and motorcycle show under the direction of event chair, Dan Talbott, Leading Knight. There were 217 registered cars, trucks and motorcycles and more than 1,500 spectators. More than 50 volunteers assisted with the planning and event-day activities. The event raised more than $7,300. Of this, $2,835.49 was donated to the Parade of Heroes, and the rest is for the lodge’s local charities. Elroy the Elk gave out coloring books and red ribbons to promote the Drug Awareness program. The Indian River County Sheriff's Department displayed the breast cancer awareness car and the teen driver challenge car. The Sebastian Police Department COPE Unit brought its trailer and provided all attendees with as much popcorn and sno-cones as they wanted, at no charge to them. During the show, children were given ballots and were made official judges to pick their favorite show entry for the Kids’ Choice award. The lodge also received numerous membership applications.
Elroy the Elk (Mike Schodlbauer, PDD) is pictured with members of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Department Teen Driver Challenge.
During the district State President’s visit Feb. 25, Port Orange Elks Lodge #2723 donated a new computer system with a large monitor and a multi-function printer, fax machine and scanner along with some extra ink cartridges for the library at the Emory L. Bennett Veterans Nursing Home in Daytona Beach, Florida. This donation was purchased using $1,272.20 of the Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant. The remaining balance of $1,227.80 from the $5,000 grant was donated in the form of a check to their activities account.
Pictured are Joe Cooper, Vice President at Large; Allie Cooper; Denise Smith; Russ Smith, endorsed Vice President at Large; Tiffiany Conner, nursing home activity director; and Gerald Peterson, PER, Elks Representative to the Emory L. Bennett Veterans Nursing Home.