Brandon Elks Lodge #2383, in collaboration with the Brandon Ladies of Elks (BLOE), presented 100 gift bags to James A. Haley Veterans Hospital (JAHVH). Donna Manusco-Fultz, BLOE member, chairs this annual event for the Brandon Ladies and says she is passionate about it because her father was cared for in JAHVH before he passed. She solicits donations and volunteers, purchases items for the gift bags, and ensures they are put together and ready for delivery. Robin Rutzke, Lodge Veterans Chair, worked with Manusco-Fultz and the Ladies to put together the 100 gift bags for delivery. Both Lodge and Ladies members packed the bags. Each bag had approximately $50 worth of items in them. Eighty-five of the bags contained gifts for men and 15 bags contained gifts for women. The items were purchased using $1,000 of the Elks National Foundation Freedom Grant and an anonymous donation of $2,000 made by an Elk member and widow of an Elk. More than $300 worth of items were also donated by members and Ladies. Each bag contained a $20 Patriot Coupon Book purchased with the anonymous donation. Patients can use the coupons to purchase items in the hospital’s canteen store, cafeteria, Starbucks and barbershop. On Jan. 23, Sharon Hammersla, PDD, lodge grants coordinator, delivered the gift bags to JAHVH for the veterans in the Spinal Cord Injury Center and Polytrauma. Excess bags were donated to the recreational therapy department at the hospital.
Pictured are Donna Manusco-Fultz, Ladies event chair, and Robin Rutzke, Lodge Veterans Chair; Ladies with the gift bag items; and Sharon Hammersla, PDD, center, delivering the gift bags to two JAHVH representatives.