Merritt Island Elks Lodge #2650 applied for and received an Elks National Foundation Focus Grant for $7,210 to make a difference for local veterans. Part of the grant money was used to With these funds, the food pantry in the Volunteers of America (VOA) building for the Veterans Transition Center in Cocoa, Florida, was expanded. This was done by Kermit Forbes, PER; John Welch and Gabriel Ensell, VOA directors and new lodge members; and Kim Johnson, PER. More refrigerators were moved into the area to provide perishable food and extra shelving was built so the pantry could carry more nonperishable food items. With the completion of this phase, Forbes is working on stocking the pantry. The second part of this grant is being used to help veterans living on the street. The lodge purchased 20 backpacks that will be stocked with face masks, hand sanitizer, socks, personal care items, hand towels, washcloths, an Ozark 11-in-1 camping tool, can openers and toilet paper. Food items will also be included. Before giving out these backpacks, the lodge wanted to let the veterans know who provided the backpacks and where they can go to refill their bags. Member Sue Hanson is a wizard with a sewing machine and created and added the Elks emblem and instructions on each bag to return to the VOA building to refill the backpacks.
Pictured working in the pantry Sept. 22 are Welch, Ensell and Forbes.
A close-up of a backpack with Hanson’s sewing
Kim Johnson, PER (left) and Kermit Forbes, PER (right), giving backpack serial number 001 to Clyde Smith Sept. 30.
Along with a $50 donation from Walmart, Lake Okeechobee Elks Lodge #2871 used funds from its Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to purchase 12 bicycles for the Okeechobee Sheriff's bicycle safety rodeo planned for Oct. 2.
Pictured July 28 with the bicycles are Cpl. Jack Nash; Cheryl Gumz, Exalted Ruler; and Doris Rosales, Walmart staff member.
Sanford Elks Lodge #1241 hosted a free community event Sept. 11 after participating in the City of Sanford’s Patriot Day: A National Day of Remembrance ceremony. The lodge event featured live music, a complimentary lunch, face painting, a balloon artist and an appearance from Elroy the Elk. The lodge had booths set up showcasing the Hoop Shoot, Soccer Shoot, Drug Awareness program, local Boy Scout troop and Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services. A wooden flag made by a combat veteran was raffled and raised $1,000 for the Florida Elks Army of Hope. Along with that, $275 was raised for the Harry-Anna Trust Fund, which supports the Florida Elks Youth Camp and Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services. Six new lodge members were gained as well. The event was a success and was even attended by Florida Elks State President, Suzi Simonelli, and first gentleman, Joey.
Florida Elks support the annual Parade of Heroes, which recognizes those who fought in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War, by flying Elks members who are veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit their respective memorials. This year, the event will take place Nov. 12-14. Mary Lou Scribner, PER, who is a member of Brandon Lodge #2383 and is a team member of the Parade of Heroes, invited Sebring Elks Lodge #1529 to participate in the thank you/appreciation cards program for veterans. These cards will be distributed to the attending veterans on their flight home during a “mail call.” The lodge contacted Sebring Middle School, and the seventh grade leadership class, taught by Stephanie Scheipsmeier, made cards for the veterans. Approximately 50 Florida Elks veterans will be attending the Parade of Heroes. Pictured with the students are Wainetta Holmes, Exalted Ruler; Stephanie Scheipsmeier, teacher; and Diane Morse, Loyal Knight.
On Sept. 9, members of Plant City Elks Lodge #1727 prepared and hosted a four-course appreciation dinner for the more than 40 volunteers of the United Food Bank to thank them for all their hard work through some tough pandemic times. The United Food Bank also supplies children with lunches during the summer months when they are not in school receiving the school’s free lunches. To assist the food bank with this, the lodge presented them with its $2,500 Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant. Pictured are Ron Johns, PER, who also volunteers at the food bank; Mary Hysek, food bank director; and John Guarino, Exalted Ruler.
On July 12, Bill Repoli, Port St. Lucie Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler, presents $500 from the lodge’s Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to the Ken Pruitt Unit Boys and Girls Club of Port St. Lucie. As stated on The Boys and Girls Clubs of America website, their mission is “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.” This donation will help the club purchase arts, crafts and miscellaneous needs. Pictured with Repoli are Rhonda McClain, program director, and club members.