A total of 32 Green Cove Springs Lodge Elks and volunteers gathered to sort and pack 3,000 jewelry gift bags. The jewelry was received through a donation to the Florida State Elks Association. Throughout the first two weeks of December, Elks volunteers delivered the bags to five elementary schools as well as a local women's shelter and senior center for children to present to their family members as gifts.
Pictured Nov. 28 are the Elks and volunteers packing the jewelry bags.
Pictured Dec. 10 delivering to a local school are Teresa Hurley, volunteer; Bonnie Conti, member; Bob Hurley, member; Lynn Elrod, member; Tim Smith, Leading Knight; Mary Bolla, member; Tammy Winkler, McRae Elementary principal; Ed Weston, Exalted Ruler; and Joy Elrod, Inner Guard.
More than 100 children attended Florida Keys Lodge’s annual Christmas party Dec. 4. Lunch was served and entertainment included arts and crafts and a magic show by Michael Trixx. Santa and Mrs. Claus rode in on a sleigh to bring everyone gifts, too. Their community elves, Coral Shores High School Interact Club, Boy Scout Troop 912, visiting and local Elks, and American Legion Memorial Post 145 helped fill three hours with smiles and giggles. The lodge funded this party with its $3,500 Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. Pictured are James Rock and Santa Claus (Tim Hartnett).
From Nov. 1 to Nov. 22 and from Dec. 1 to Dec. 20, Venice-Nokomis Elks Lodge #1854 held a food drive for 70 families for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Along with what members and the community donated, the Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant was used to assure healthy and balanced meals. For several Saturdays, members sorted and packed food. They also provided food to Laurel Civic Center, which needed food for their aftercare program, and the local food bank. The pandemic has made it difficult for families to handle their most basic of needs and the Elks are committing to helping.
On Dec. 15, West Citrus Elks Lodge #2693 used $500 from its Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to purchase food for the WE Care Food Pantry in in Homosassa, Florida.
Pictured are Doug Norman, trustee, and Marcia Norman, House Committee member.
Plant City Lodge member Judy Wise is extremely dedicated to veterans causes. For the third year, she and fellow lodge members organized the annual “Plant City Honors our Veterans and Active Military” event, held Nov. 14 at the TECO Expo Hall at the Strawberry Festival Grounds in Plant City, Florida. It was considered to be one of the largest veterans events in Hillsborough County. Wise starts with the $2,500 Elks National Foundation Freedom Grant and builds on this with community and Elk involvement and contributions as well as the support of local dignitaries. The event had 485 in attendance. Most were veterans with their significant others, and they all received a free meal of barbecued pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, and slaw. Elks Past National President and Plant City Lodge member, Michael Smith, shared some Elk history, local Durant High School Air Force JROTC gave the presentation of colors, and Plant City’s Scout Pack 744 walked on the stage with U.S. military flags representing each branch of service. Florida State Senator and former executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Danny Burgess, was the keynote speaker. As a token of appreciation, Wise was presented the Chaplaincy Care Coin of Excellence typically only presented to first responders and military members. She said, “the veterans are my heart, they always have been.”
Pictured are Mayor Rick Lott, who is also a lodge member; Judy Wise; and Chaplain Dan Middlebrooks.
Also pictured are four veterans who received Quilts of Honor — Robert Johnson, Vietnam helicopter pilot and Plant City Lodge member; Carl Dekle, 100-year-old World War II Marine veteran; John Wolfe, 97-year-old Petty Officer 3rd Class World War II Navy veteran; and Jerry Goss, Lt. Col. Air Force.
Sebastian Elks Lodge #2714 and its ladies organization, the EL-DOEs, have been supporting Toys for Tots of Indian River County for more than 20 years. This year the event kicked off Nov. 1 and ended with the EL-DOEs hosting the annual dinner dance Dec. 11. More than 11 boxes of toys, a half dozen bikes and several scooters as well as $240 in financial donations were collected.
Pictured before the dance are Billy Shallies, Exalted Ruler; Tony Vitale; Audrey Huddy (dual member); Dan Talbott, Leading Knight; Mary Fox (EL-DOE); Pauline Talbott, EL-DOEs vice president (dual member); Mary Ducharme, EL-DOEs president; Eileen Bruce, EL-DOEs treasurer (dual member); Diane Lemire (dual member); Fred Mays; and Debbie Lawrence (EL-DOE). In the front row are Carol Vitale (dual member) and Bernice May (EL-DOE).