“Best People on Earth” has been the tagline for Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks lodges for years. In our case, it is more than apt!
For Elk Lodges all across the country, helping your fellow man, especially youth and veterans, is a standard. For our Lodge we show it time and again in the many fundraisers we do every time there is a need. From feeding volunteers that assisted with the recent Hattiesburg/Petal tornados, to a fundraiser for the family of fallen Hattiesburg PD officer Deen, to an impromptu event to supply a heart patient with funds for unforeseen medicines, we are there with the food, the entertainment, the raffle items, and the heart to make it happen. We support the local school system with an annual donation of hygiene supplies that otherwise the teachers would buy. We play Bingo with the Veterans at the State Home in Collins each month and run an Adopt-A-Vet program for personal items they need. We host an annual Sunrise Easter Service lakeside at our lodge.
This is the same “Elks Club” that Andy and Barney took Helen and Thelma to for dances — but it is not your grand dad’s lodge anymore! Populated now by baby boomers who look to the social environment as well as ecology, the lodges today think “Service, service, service!” We help Veterans, Scouts, the elderly, focus on drug awareness, respond to natural disasters.
Our lodge in Hattiesburg, MS is unique in that we have 1,400 acres of woodlands, with lake, campground, fishing, etc., so we draw members from a large area. We therefore respond to a large area whenever a need occurs. The recent tornados that devastated Hattiesburg and Petal: all of the south Mississippi Elks lodges put together and staffed a food trailer in the hardest hit area to feed ANYONE in need. A year or two ago, when Officers Deen and Tate of the Hattiesburg Police Department were gunned down, this lodge did a fundraiser.
We apply for and disperse grants of $2,000 and more made available to us from our Grand Lodge to local efforts: School District Hygiene Supplies, Abbie Rogers Civitan Camp (youth and adults with severe handicaps), Foster Children Summer Camps. Any given month we are working on a major fundraising or charity event. And it does not end with just the public presence. We respond to any neighbor in need: a recent impromptu event raised over $4,000 to help one of our own with the medicine costs after an unforeseen heart attack. I could go on and on, but it is at times overwhelming how many ways we reach out to the community with dollars, donations, and support.