Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Brooksville, Fla., Lodge No. 2582

The gifts are unwrapped, the fruit cake is eaten, and the eggnog is gone, but Christmas magic is still alive and well at Brooksville, Fla., Lodge No. 2582. The Lodge used an Elks National Foundation Promise Grant to hold a Christmas party for local kids in need. A record 320 children attended, enjoying a feast of pizza, soft drinks, snow cones and homemade cookies.

During the party, Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman greeted the guests. The event culminated with a visit from Santa Claus, who handed each child his or her very own Christmas gift.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of local youth. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Johnson City, Tenn., Lodge No. 825


For Johnson City, Tenn., Lodge No. 825, the Christmas tree is much more than a decoration. Instead of traditional ornaments hanging from the branches and wrapped presents nestled under the tree, the Lodge's tree is decorated with socks and shoes. These unique ornaments are mementos from the Elks’ recent shopping spree, through which, with the help of an Elks National Foundation Promise Grant, Elks provided brand-new socks and shoes to 279 local children in need.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of local youth. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Behind the Scenes at the ENF

By Programs Associate Mary Morgan

Debbie Doles, Kristen Scaletta and I landed in Las Vegas on a warm, sunny afternoon, which was a welcome change from recently-turned-cold Chicago. We rented our car and soon left the bright lights and big dreams of Vegas behind as we headed into the dusty red mountains and desert that led us to St. George, Utah.

We were on our way to gather footage for the ENF’s soon-to-be released short feature film, Giving Back. For the past three years, St. George ‘Dixie’, Utah, Lodge No. 1743 has used an Impact Grant to run the Pantry Partners for Success project at Millcreek High, a local alternative high school. The Lodge provides material and other support to the students at the school. It’s a wildly successful project, and has both raised the graduation rate at the school and raised the Lodge’s image in the community. Because of this, we chose to feature this project as part of the ENF video, and were headed to get footage of Elks in action.

Desert Cruising

Bibb frames a shot of the pantry.


With Debbie at the wheel, me navigating, and Kristen Scaletta in the back seat, we cruised through Nevada, briefly sped through Arizona, and finally sailed into Utah. Halfway through the trip, our fearless film director Judson Bibb called to say he was already in town and headed over to the filming site to start planning for the big shoot the next day. Fame waits for no one, I guess.
As we were still quite a way from St. George, literally battling the desert tumbleweed, we called in our local troops and they met Bibb at Millcreek High School to show him around. Betty and Heidi to the rescue! It was a sign of things to come. Betty Archambault and Heidi Tasso would be a tremendous help to us the next few days, and we were grateful for their time and expertise.

Big Plans

The crew captures students
in the nursery.

Once the school and Lodge sites were scoped out for filming, we headed to a business dinner along with the director. We laid out a schedule, discussing lighting, plans, and lighting again. As it turns out, lighting is pretty important when filming. (Apparently our collective inner light just wasn’t enough.) Armed with our newfound industry knowledge, we went to sleep dreaming of Hollywood, which would surely be clamoring to make us stars once they saw our finished film.

Though tempted, we did not abandon the ENF for the siren song of stardom. We awoke early the next day, and armed with coffee and tea, headed back to high school (dun dun duuuuun). The film crew, fresh in from Las Vegas that morning, was already at Millcreek preparing the equipment. We soon learned that the cameraman and sound technician’s regular jobs were to film a reality show about pawn shops in Vegas, so they must have been looking forward to filming something truly exciting—the ENF video.

Troops on the Ground

The crew caught "Fabio," who works for the
food pantry, in action as he delivered
the daily shipment of food and other supplies.

 A basically wonderful crew of Elks came down to the school that day to help out. Wayne, Joe, Betty, Terry, Heidi, Jackie and more volunteers helped with delivering supplies, packing shelves and speaking with students. Many even agreed to be interviewed for the video. There was a buzz at the school that day, as all students were aware of the film crew and had signed releases to be filmed. The film crew visited the nursery, where young children slept, played and ate while their parents worked toward their high school degrees. Many students stopped in the nursery throughout the day, visiting with the children and helping to care for them. There was even a preschool section for one child who was ready to start attending school himself.

The film crew rolled the tape as a truck from a local food pantry rolled up, filled with supplies and food for the students. Elks lined up to carry items into the pantry, and students lent a hand with some of the heavy lifting. Supplies ranged from fresh produce to baby food to a bed for a student who’d been sleeping on the floor before the Elks intervened.

A Day in the Life

Bibb interviews school principal
Terry Ogborn.

As the day moved on and interview after interview wrapped, we began to see what goes into a day’s worth of managing the Pantry Partners for Success project. A local quilting group quietly dropped off more than a dozen beautiful handmade quilts for the students.

The Lodge’s Exalted Ruler casually dropped off two hand-carved cradles for the young children in the nursery, with their names inscribed on the side. The filing cabinets in the nursery were stocked not with paper, but with formula, diapers, knitted hats, boots and clothes for the children. The preschool section of the nursery was lined with books and toys. The pantry had everything from quick meals to prepare at home, to pans to cook those meals, to bus passes, shoes and bedding.

At the end of the school day, the tables in the front hall were stocked with the pantry supplies and the students took what they needed for dinner, breakfast and for their family members.

A Twilight Scene

We then headed to the Lodge for a few final interviews. As twilight approached, there’s no better place to be than outside on the porch at St. George Lodge. The view of the town and mountains is breathtaking, and it served as the backdrop for a few of our interviews. Lodge members stepped up to tell us what being an Elk means to them, and what programs they are most proud of. As the last rays of sunlight faded away, we called it a wrap and headed inside for dinner.

This vegetarian had a great time at steak night, amidst great company and tales of local lore. We even learned about the resident ghost, though he didn’t show his face that night.

Capturing what it means to be an Elk, and all of the charitable things Elks do is nearly impossible, but we believe this video offers a great insight into some of those things. At the ENF, our hope is that the examples of service that the Elks provide in the film will inspire others to think, “Now it’s my turn to give back.”

That’s a wrap.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Catalina Mountain, Ariz., Lodge No., 2815

Christmas is almost here, and Elks across the country are getting in the spirit. Look at Catalina Mountain, Ariz., Lodge No., 2815, whose members take time out of their busy holiday schedules each year to reach out to local kids in need.

Using an Elks National Foundation Promise Grant, the Lodge held its annual Christmas shopping spree. Elks started the day off bright and early by taking 35 kids shopping for Christmas gifts. They then treated the kids to a pizza lunch back at the Lodge, which culminated in a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of local youth. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Lebanon, N.H., Lodge No. 2099

For homeless veterans, a secure place to sleep can be the ticket to a fresh start. Elks at Lebanon, N.H., Lodge No. 2099 helped homeless veterans in their community get this fresh start by providing furniture for a local residential facility. Using its Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant, the Lodge teamed up with Harbor Homes to furnish bedrooms for six homeless veterans. 

The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities by offering $2,000 Gratitude Grants. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-member goal for Foundation giving. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Sparks, Nev., Lodge No. 2397

Elks at Sparks, Nev., Lodge No. 2397 launched a brand-new tradition of giving back to veterans in need. Using an Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant, the Lodge participated in its community’s first Stand Down for Veterans. The Elks distributed sweatshirts, socks and pants to an estimated 150 veterans in attendance. Members also solicited donations and discounts from local stores to stretch their grant funds as far as possible. The Lodge plans on being a part of this annual event for years to come.

Through Beacon Grants, the Elks National Foundation gives Lodges the opportunity to develop an ongoing, charitable, Elks-driven community project. These $1,000 grants are available to all Lodges. To find out more about Beacon Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Garland, Texas, Lodge No. 1984
Veterans at the Dallas VA Medical Center can count on Garland, Texas, Lodge No. 1984 for support and fellowship. The Lodge uses its ENF Gratitude Grant to host a variety of activities for veterans at the hospital. Elks travel to the medical center once a month to host Bingo. In partnership with the Boy Scouts, Elks distribute food, books and clothes to everyone who participates. The Lodge also hosts a cook-out for these veterans, complete with a horseshoe tournament and karaoke contest.

The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities by offering $2,000 Gratitude Grants. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-member goal for Foundation giving. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Monday, November 5, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Newport, Ore., Lodge No. 2105
Knowledge is power, and Elks at Newport, Ore., Lodge No. 2105 want families to be as powerful as possible when it comes to keeping kids safe. Using its Elks National Foundation Beacon and Promise Grants, the Lodge held its first Family Information Day, providing free eye exams, food, fun games, and demonstrations by local police and fire departments for 55 families.

“From our experience this year, we are already planning next year’s event,” says project manager Michael Goldfarb.

The Elks National Foundation will help Lodges meet local needs by investing up to $6.5 million this year in Elks communities through Beacon, Gratitude, Promise and Impact Grants. These grants offer Lodges an opportunity to serve the community in ways that will raise the Lodge’s profile, energize the membership, encourage former members to return to the fold, and gain the notice of people who want to be part of an organization that’s doing great things. To learn more about the Community Investments Program, please visit www.elks.org/enf/community

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Hand Up

By Programs Associate Mary Morgan

In June, I attended a few days of the National Conference on Volunteering and Service. Knowing the passion many Elks have for supporting veterans, I attended speeches and sessions geared toward effectively serving veterans, active-duty military members and their families. Along the way, I met many wonderful people and learned about many great organizations dedicated to doing just that.

General George W. Casey
While there were no cookie-cutter solutions offered, there were a great many small success stories offered from around the nation. Most of those solutions started locally, a point which would come up again when I went to hear a speech by General George W. Casey on how communities can aid veterans.

General Casey is a retired United States Army General, and served as the 36th Chief of Staff of the United States Army. His speech, entitled “All the Way Home,” kicked off the last day of the conference and focused on ways to help veterans, service members and their families adapt and thrive.

“Start at the local level,” Gen. Casey began. “Don’t wait for government to act. Military depends on public/private partnerships.”

As I listened to his speech and considered what I’d learned at the conference, I realized that as a charitable, community organization, the Elks are in a unique position to reach out and help veterans, military members and their families.

Now that it’s Veterans Remembrance Month, there is no better time for me to share my takeaways from the conference. The Hand Up series is meant to inspire Lodges to use their ENF Grants to do more, or do things differently to help today’s returning service men and women. Veterans have the potential to be great resources in their communities. They simply need a hand up. That’s exactly where the Elks come in.

Click here to read the first installment in the month-long series.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Decatur, Ind., Lodge No. 993
Halloween is just around the corner! The Elks at Decatur, Ind., Lodge No. 993 help local children have a safe and fun holiday. Using an Elks National Foundation Promise Grant, the Lodge distributed candy and drug awareness materials to nearly 1,000 families at a community trick-or-treat day last Halloween. And that’s no trick.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of local youth. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Clark Fort Valley, Mont., Lodge No. 2757

With the right lighting and little stage make-up, Elks at Clark Fort Valley, Mont., Lodge No. 2757 helped local students put on a Broadway-worthy production. Using an ENF Gratitude Grant, the Elks helped produce Thompson Falls Elementary School’s rendition of “King Arthurs Quest.” With only a week to prepare, the students and the Elks pulled off a great performance, entertaining more than 400 captive audience members. 

“The whole town was abuzz with excitement,” says Project Manager Connie Scott. “This week was magical for these kids and the community.”

The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities by offering $2,000 Gratitude Grants. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-capita goal for Foundation giving. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

East Liverpool, Ohio, Lodge No. 258

Baseball season is wrapping up in the big leagues, but for East Liverpool, Ohio, Lodge No. 258, the love of the game knows no season. The Lodge used its Elks National Foundation Promise Grant to run a youth baseball and softball camp, drawing more than 70 young athletes. Participants worked on the fundamentals of the game, and even got to meet former Pittsburgh Pirate and 1979 World Series champion Grant Jackson.

“Everyone had a great time and the participants wanted to know when we would have another camp,” says Event Chair Chad Prologo.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of local youth. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Beardstown, Ill., Lodge No. 1007

Beardstown, Ill., Lodge No. 1007 believes that when youth are engaged in the community, great things happen. Using an Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant, the Lodge created “Project Tiger Pride,” bringing together more than 400 students and community members to landscape the local school, library and fire department.

“We made sure the students were involved with the primary planting—thus taking pride in the project, their school and their community,” says Project Manager Jack Fearneyhough. “It was a great community project that boosted morale, spirits and interest.”

The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities by offering $2,000 Gratitude Grants. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-capita goal for Foundation giving. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Christian County, Mo., Lodge No. 2777

Elks at Christian County, Mo., Lodge No. 2777 helped local students start the school year off right. The Lodge combined its Promise and Beacon grants to take 80 students in need on a back-to-school shopping spree. Elks helped each student pick out necessities ranging from shoes to coats. Through this project, the Lodge attracted more than $5,000 in additional community support.

“We want children to be comfortable and confident when they return to school,” says Project Manager Tom Shelton.

The Elks National Foundation will help Lodges meet local needs by investing up to $6.5 million this year in Elks communities through Beacon, Gratitude, Promise and Impact Grants. These grants offer Lodges an opportunity to serve the community in ways that will raise the Lodge’s profile, energize the membership, encourage former members to return to the fold, and gain the notice of people who want to be part of an organization that’s doing great things. To learn more about the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Bluefield, W. Va., Lodge No. 269
On a hot summer day, there's nothing better than an afternoon at the pool. Thanks to Bluefield, W. Va., Lodge No. 269, local youth were able to share in this favorite summer pastime. An Elks National Foundation Promise Grant helped fund this pool party, during which the kids learned how to swim and found out what the Elks do for the community. Elroy the Elk and Lodge members were on hand to ensure everyone had a great time.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of local youth. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Fallon, Nev., Lodge No. 2239

What does it take to bring together more than 8,000 community members? A park on a sunny day, free activites for people of all ages, and most importantly, the Elks.

Using an Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant, Fallon, Nev., Lodge No. 2239 brought its community together by instituting Fallon Community Day. At the event, more than 50 local organizations provided free resources. With haircuts for seniors, dental check-ups for kids, and CPR training for young adults, the celebration offered something for everyone!

The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities by offering $2,000 Gratitude Grants. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-capita goal for Foundation giving. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Norristown, Pa., Lodge No. 714
Wearing a bike helmet can mean the difference between a minor injury and a tragic accident. This is the message Elks at Norristown, Pa., Lodge No. 714 shared with families participating in their second annual Bike Safety Day. Using an Elks National Foundation Promise Grant, the Lodge provided free bike inspections and helmets to all children in attendance.

This event has already proved invaluable to the community. Last year, a local boy survived a serious bike accident thanks to the helmet he received at the Elks’ Bike Safety Day. The Elks displayed the boy’s helmet, now split in two, at this year’s event to remind guests that bike safety is vital.

Thanks to the Elks, the children rode off after the event armed with the tools and knowledge needed for a fun and safe summer.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of local youth. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Mid-Westchester, N.Y., Lodge No. 535

Thanks to the Elks, Boy Scouts in Mid-Westchester, N.Y., are even more prepared. Mid-Westchester Lodge No. 535 is the proud founding sponsor of a local Boy Scout troop for boys with physical and developmental disabilities. With the help of an Elks National Foundation Promise Grant, the 10 scouts in Pack 535 can participate in meaningful activities and earn badges through a modified scouting curriculum. This year, the scouts will visit community helpers and responders, participate in outdoor activities, explore local parks, and more.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of local youth. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Huntington, W. Va., Lodge No. 313


Using its Elks National Foundation Promise Grant, Huntington, W. Va., Lodge No. 313 inspired a new generation of public servants through a field trip to the West Virginia State Capitol. Young women from the Golden Girls Group Home learned first-hand what it takes to run a state government. While on the field trip, the girls toured the Governor’s Mansion, attended a West Virginia legislative session, and spoke to members of state government. The group was even introduced during the legislative session in both the House and Senate Chambers.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of local youth. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Venice/Nokomis, Fla., Lodge No. 1854

Thanks to Venice/Nokomis, Fla., Lodge No. 1854, local families in need are well fed. The Lodge partnered with All Faiths Food Bank Mobile Cupboard program and used its Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to donate food and volunteer time for three months this year. More than 100 families received food twice a month from Elks volunteers like Wayne East, Merle Tarr and Sven Nelson, pictured above.

The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities by offering $2,000 Gratitude Grants. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-capita goal for Foundation giving. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Murphysboro, Ill., Lodge No. 572
Murphysboro, Ill., Lodge No. 572 used its Elks National Foundation Promise Grant to hold a Youth Fun Day for community children. Kids participated in a wide array of activities including kite flying, archery, tether ball and an animal exposition. Elroy the Elk also made an appearance to educate kids on the importance of being drug-free.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of local youth. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Ocean Shores-North Beach, Wash., Lodge No. 2581

Teens from North Beach High School danced the night away thanks to Ocean Shores-North Beach, Wash., Lodge No. 2581. The Lodge used its Elks National Foundation Promise Grant to host the high school’s Saturday Night Lights dance. The successful event put the Elks and the work they do for the community in the spotlight.

“Many of the high school seniors are already talking about becoming an Elk,” says Lodge President William Sisco. 

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of local youth. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Page, Ariz., Lodge No. 2498

Page, Ariz., Lodge No. 2498 used an Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to offer local youth access to a whole new game. Elks partnered with Page Youth Football to start the first youth football league the community has had in years.

“Keeping youth involved with healthy activities helps them grow into better citizens,” says Project Manager Russ Madsen.

Here, the children pose with some of their new equipment. 

The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities by offering $2,000 Gratitude Grants. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-capita goal for Foundation giving. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Valparaiso, Ind., Lodge No. 500

Elks at Valparaiso, Ind., Lodge No. 500 used an Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to ensure local children had a safe place to spend time after school—Hilltop House’s Walt’s Place. Hilltop House’s Walt’s Place is a youth center that provides everything from hot meals to tutoring for the students to ESL classes for their parents.

“This organization is a local success story that impressed us all,” says Project Manager Steven Justman.

The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities by offering $2,000 Gratitude Grants. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Friday, June 1, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Fond du Lac, Wis., Lodge No. 57

Elks at Fond du Lac, Wis., Lodge No. 57 know how to keep a good thing rolling. The Lodge uses it Elks National Foundation Promise Grant to hold bowling parties for kids and teens with disabilities. Every other month, Elks gather with these bowlers to share lunch and a little friendly competition. At the end of the night, every bowler gets a medal, and the top two scorers receive a trophy.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of local youth. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Newark, N.Y., Lodge No. 1249
Lodge member Bob Schinsing (left) poses with the shelter’s director. Bob regularly volunteers at the Humane Society, and has used his handyman skills to build a shed, shelving units, doors and play cubes.
If these dogs could talk, they’d say, “Thank you, Elks!” Elks at Newark, N.Y., Lodge No. 1249 have a soft spot for animals. Each month, members collect supplies to donate to the Humane Society of Wayne County. The Lodge also uses its Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to support the shelter.

The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities by offering $2,000 Gratitude Grants. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Monday, May 14, 2012

My First Hoop Shoot

In March 2012, Lindsay Saunders joined the Elks National Foundation as the Youth Programs Associate. As part of her job, Lindsay will manage the day-to-day operations of the Elks Hoop Shoot. This April, Lindsay traveled to Springfield, Mass., for the National Finals, where she saw her very first Hoop Shoot contest in action.

By Lindsay Saunders, Youth Programs Associate

Lindsay learns the intricacies
of Hoop Shoot registration.
“Elks LOVE the Hoop Shoot!” I was told this several times before ever witnessing a Hoop Shoot in person.  Sure, I read through materials, studied the rules, even watched couple of YouTube clips of local contests. Still, nothing quite prepared me for the tremendous event that is the National Hoop Shoot Finals.

I arrived at the Sheraton Hotel in Springfield, Mass., and immediately began meeting Hoop Shoot volunteers who had been working tirelessly to prepare for what I was to witness in the next couple of days. For most Elks volunteers, this year’s Hoop Shoot was far from their first—some of them have been attending for more than 20 years! A few hours, several hugs, and a couple of custom Elks pins later, I already felt like a member of the Hoop Shoot family. I was overwhelmed by each Elk’s kindness, dedication, and passion for the program.

After a few of days of behind-the-scenes preparation (and lots and lots of note taking), it was time to meet the finalists and their families. Group by group, families arrived at the hotel to register for the contest. After being greeted by a red sea of smiling regional directors and checking into their rooms, families were ushered through the registration line. Many trickled into the family hospitality room where I was able to meet them and put some faces to the names I’d been seeing in news articles and emails for weeks.

It was during these discussions that I realized why Elks Hoop Shoot volunteers possess so much passion for what they do—it’s the families. Each expressed gratitude toward the Elks and pride in their sons’ and daughters’ accomplishments. For some, it was their first time flying on an airplane. Many had never been to the East Coast (myself included). My time in Springfield confirmed that, although contestants compete alone, Hoop Shoot is a family activity through and through.

 My last two days in Springfield were a blur. Busy trying to wrap my head around all that was happening, I continued to mingle with families, get to know Elks, and soak in as much information as possible. Finally, I witnessed my first Hoop Shoot contest. I have to admit, growing up a cheerleader and attending a Big Ten university didn’t quite prepare me for the Hoop Shoot finals. I quickly realized that the toughest part of my job might be keeping quiet during the contest—it was hard not to cheer!

By the end of my trip, I returned to Chicago with a wealth of new knowledge and a clearer understanding of how the Hoop Shoot works and what it’s really about—the kids who participate. I am excited to be a part of the program and, in case you’re wondering… I, too, LOVE the Hoop Shoot.

Through the Elks National Hoop Shoot Free Throw Program, the Elks National Foundation teaches kids the value of hard work and good sportsmanship. In 2012-13, the ENF allocated $748,055 to fund this program. For more information on the Hoop Shoot, visit www.elks.org/hoopshoot.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Bay City, Mich., Lodge No. 88

In Bay City, Mich., veterans know the Elks care. Bay City, Mich., Lodge No. 88 used its Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to plan a great day out for veterans in partnership with the National Guard and a local veterans’ group. Elks provided food, support and publicity for the Walleyes for Warriors event.

“We have a passion for supporting those that served," says Project Manager Anthony Bosco, a Vietnam veteran himself. "We are planning of having this event again next year.” 

The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities by offering $2,000 Gratitude Grants. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Harrison-East Newark, N.J., Lodge No. 2326

Play ball! Harrison-East Newark, N.J., Lodge No. 2326 used its Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to help local youth get in the game. Elks donated to the Little League; sponsored a team; and helped with the opening day ceremony, parade and barbecue to kick off the season.

The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities by offering $2,000 Gratitude Grants. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Farewell to Elks

By Christine Vaccarello, Development Associate

“Where do you work?” “What do you do?” Over the last four years, I’ve tried out many different explanations when responding to these questions. I’ve learned that to the non-Elks public, the Elks National Foundation is not a household name.

So when I tell people that I work for the Elks, they almost always want to know more. Next, they’ll either ask, “Who are the Elks?”, or my favorite, exclaim “I know the Elks!” and then share a special memory about the Lodge in their community or an Elks family member. For instance, one of my friends recalls the Elks sponsoring his youth tee ball team, from the uniforms to the post-game snacks.

Here in Chicago, many people who hear “Elks” associate it with the Elks Veterans Memorial building. It’s a Chicago landmark, after all. They’ll ask, “You work in that building?! Can you give me a tour?” I respond, “Become an ENF donor, and I’ll be glad to give you a tour.”

But my favorite thing to talk about is the Elks’ philanthropy. I watch peoples’ eyes widen when I mention the ENF’s $23.6 million in charitable distributions this year. I brag about our volunteers and their dedication to the ENF and their communities. I share a funny anecdote from a conversation with an ENF Chair––they always keep me smiling.

I’m writing this post on my last day working at the Elks National Foundation; tomorrow I’ll begin a fundraising position at another organization. It’s hard to believe that fewer than five years ago, I had never heard the term Grand Exalted Ruler. Despite being educated and trained in fundraising, I didn’t know about gun raffles or charitable Bingo.

After four and a half years here, I am inclined to agree with the Elks’ assertion that BPOE stands for the Best People on Earth. The long-distance Elks friends I’ve made are people I won’t forget. Elks members have taught me the true meaning of the word “volunteer”. Being a bit of a nerd, I already knew that it comes from the Latin volo, “to want”, which is also the root of the word benevolent. To Elks, volunteering is more than a hobby; it’s a way of life. This is why the Elks National Foundation thrives.

I’d like to sincerely thank all the ENF donors and volunteers who’ve made my job a pleasure. Keep up your passion for the ENF mission and know that you are inspiring people across the country, including here at the ENF headquarters.

And Chicagoans, take note: though I won’t be working in the building, I still know my way around the Veterans Memorial and will gladly arrange a tour. Just don’t forget your checkbook.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Portsmouth-Chesapeake, Va., Lodge No. 82


Anchors away! Portsmouth-Chesapeake, Va., Lodge No. 82 used its Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to help kids battling cancer. The Lodge partnered with the Roc Solid Foundation to build a play set for a local child fighting cancer.

“Being a part of one of these builds is a heartwarming, truly gratifying experience,” says Project Manager Thom Grubbs. 

The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities by offering $2,000 Gratitude Grants. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Colonie, N.Y., Lodge No. 2192

Over the river and through the woods to Colonie, N.Y., Lodge No. 2192 children go! The Lodge used its Elks National Foundation Promise Grant to throw a party for children being raised by their grandparents. Elks partnered with Catholic Charities to hold this event, which featured a delicious dinner, games for the children, and gift cards for their grandparents. The local boy scout troop helped by organizing trivia games and running a reading corner for younger kids.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of local youth. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Carson City, Nev., Lodge No. 2177

Carson City, Nev., Lodge No. 2177 gave community members in need the option to choose healthy foods. The Lodge used its Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables for Hungry Kids Healthy Foods, the local food pantry. Elks also volunteer for the pantry, unpacking and preparing the food for distribution.

The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities by offering $2,000 Gratitude Grants. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Bellafonte, Pa., Lodge No. 1094

Bellafonte, Pa., Lodge No. 1094 partnered with Penn State’s 4-H mentoring program to provide school supplies, backpacks, dictionaries and support to more than 250 students in need. With the help of an Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant, the Elks held a picnic where students could collect their supplies. Here, Lodge President Dale Moore passes out the school supplies.

The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities by offering $2,000 Gratitude Grants. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Clayton, N.J., Lodge No. 2132


Clayton, N.J., Lodge No. 2132 partnered with Gloucester County Therapeutic Recreation, a local center for people with disabilities, to hold a formal dinner and dance for the center’s clients. Guests enjoyed a turkey dinner followed by hours of dancing, made possible by an Elks National Foundation Promise Grant.

“The Clayton Elks do so many wonderful things for our clients, and we are so grateful,” writes Barbara Holt, Director of the center. “Many thanks to the Elks for being exceptionally good to us.” 

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Pawhuska, Okla., Lodge No. 2542

Pawhuska, Okla., Lodge No. 2542 used its Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to partner with a local group called Quilts of Valor. The group provides handmade quilts for returning soldiers in the area. Above, hard-working quilters pose with Dustin, a grateful recipient who just returned from serving his third tour in Iraq. 

The ENF awards $2,000 Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Potsdam, N.Y., Lodge No. 2074
Every year, Potsdam, N.Y., Lodge No. 2074 teams up with the city to hold a youth day. Elks rent inflatable houses for children, educate parents and children about drug awareness and act as chaperones for the popular event, made possible by an Elks National Foundation Promise Grant

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Camden, Tenn., Lodge No. 2156


Camden, Tenn., Lodge No. 2156 used its Community Investments Program Promise Grant to teach local children about healthy living. Elks partnered with a local soccer association to hold a kick-off day for the popular league. Children who attended learned soccer skills, and visited with Elroy the Elk who taught them the importance of staying drug free.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Eugene, Ore., Lodge No. 357


Eugene, Ore., Lodge No. 357 makes sure kids fighting cancer know they have the Elks in their corner. Each year, with the help of a Community Investments Program Promise Grant, the Elks hold events for these children and their families at the Lodge. Children receive toys, play games, and build their own sundaes at an ice cream bar. Their families receive gift cards to help with expenses. This year, clowns and even the University of Oregon duck came to join in the fun.

“Thank you Elks for having us over,” writes a parent after one of these gatherings. “My whole family looks forward to these events. They help my son enjoy himself and be around people who care.”

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Clark Fork Valley, Mont., Lodge No. 2757


Clark Fork Valley, Mont., Lodge No. 2757 used its Community Investments Program Promise Grant to build a new playground at a local school. Elks purchased supplies and held a workday where each child at the school came out to help, learning from the Elks volunteers. After the project was finished, a local Native American teacher showed the children how to hold a “sit-in ceremony” to commemorate their new playground.

“What a day,” said Project Manager Connie Scott, when asked about the experience. “There were kids and Elks everywhere. Thanks so much for this grant.”

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Community Investments Program Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Green Cove Springs, Fla., Lodge No. 1892

Green Cove Springs, Fla., Lodge No. 1892 makes sure local students have everything they need to succeed. The Lodge used its Community Investments Program Gratitude Grant to partner with a local children’s charity. Together, they provided backpacks full of school supplies to 600 students in need. When all was packed and ready, Elks and other volunteers delivered the supplies to five different local schools.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Lynchburg, Va., Lodge No. 321


Lynchburg, Va., Lodge No. 321 used its Elks National Foundation Promise Grant to brighten the day of the girls living at a local group home. More than 40 Elks helped at a Lodge cook-out for the home’s residents. The following day, a few Elks took the girls shopping for clothes and school supplies.

“It was a big success,” says project manager Jill Wagner. “The girls were appreciative and the Elks enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with them.”

The ENF awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Be Loud, Be Proud, Be Visible

We all know the good work the Elks do, but does your community? ENF Community Investments Program grants can help Lodges to not only serve their community but also to gain the community’s notice. The more people see and hear about the good Elks are doing, the more they’ll want to be part of an organization that’s doing great things.

Throughout 2012, the ENF will follow Redlands, Calif., Lodge No. 583 as members work to raise their Lodge’s profile through community service. Here’s what the Lodge has done so far.

In December, Lodge member Sam Trad contacted the ENF looking for advice on how his Lodge could most effectively use its ENF grants. We sent brochures, videos and other information to help with the process, and he took off running. We recently had the chance to ask Trad a few questions about his commitment to and enthusiasm for raising his Lodge’s profile. Here's what he had to say.

What inspired the Lodge to start using ENF grants to raise its community profile?
I found the video “ENF Grants: Raising Your Community Profile” on the ENF web site. ENF Director Jim O'Kelley did a very good job communicating the purpose of the ENF Community Investments Program. He repeatedly said that the ENF is there to help our Lodges succeed.

What are your plans so far?
I put together a focus group of 10 members to come up with ideas about how we can use ENF grants to make our Lodge vibrant and sustainable. After three meetings, we will now be making some important decisions on our goals to present to the Lodge leadership. We plan to have them all watch the ENF video (below) as well. 


What do you hope will come from this?
I hope our service puts focus on the good work that Elks do in our community. This, I feel, will help us grow our Lodge membership. Redlands is a city that has significant community involvement through a number of non-profit organizations. There are people who want an avenue to give back to the community. By raising Redland’s profile, we will show them that there is no better way to give back to the community than by becoming involved with the Elks. 

Stay tuned for our next check-in with Redlands. Email us your stories of how your Lodge is using ENF Grants to raise its community profile. Contact us if you would also like materials to start a similar conversation at your Lodge.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Oak Ridge, Tenn., Lodge No. 1684
A concertgoer takes advantage of the free face painting!

Oak Ridge, Tenn., Lodge No. 1684 used its Community Investments Program Promise Grant to hold five separate Drug Free Safe Zone concerts! The concerts, geared specifically toward providing a drug-free environment for youth, were a big hit. Popular local bands played music for kids ages 2 to 18, and each guest received a healthy meal and drug education materials.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Hoxie, Kans., Lodge No. 2415

A student concentrates on a relay game—
can he balance six dice on the popsicle stick
before time runs out?
Hoxie, Kans., Lodge No. 2415 used its Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant to support a drug and alcohol free after-prom party for local high school students. Elks volunteered at the party, which gave teens a fun and safe place to celebrate with their friends.

The Elks National Foundation awards $2,000 Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the National President’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Orange, Calif., Lodge No. 1475

Orange, Calif., Lodge No. 1475 used its Community Investments Program Gratitude Grant to promote literacy. The Lodge purchased dictionaries for all the 3rd graders in the county—a total of 2,400 students! Here, students are showing off their brand new books.

The ENF awards $2,000 Gratitude Grants to Lodges to directly address local needs. Lodges are eligible to apply for Gratitude Grants after meeting the GER’s per-capita goal. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.   

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Elks Community Builder of the Week

Cocoa Beach, Fla., Lodge No. 2387

Elks from Cocoa Beach, Fla., Lodge No. 2387 know the importance of extracurricular activities. That’s why they partnered with the local high school, and last year raised a record $28,000 to help student groups ranging from the athletic department to the robotics team.

With the help of an Elks National Foundation Promise Grant, the Lodge helps students hold car wash fundraisers. Check out this news coverage of the Lodge’s partnership with the school.

The ENF awards $2,000 Promise Grants to the first 500 Lodges that pledge to host an event that helps build the character and competence of youth in their community. To find out more about Promise Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit www.elks.org/enf/community.