I am writing to make you aware of some things that are going on in your town that you and your neighbors may know nothing about. Something that makes your town a better place in which to live and raise a family. It is that Elks Lodge down the street that goes, for the most part, unnoticed.
That Lodge is one of approximately 2,000 across the United States and 17 in Alaska. The one in your town may have 50 members or it may have 900 members. No matter the size, it is going about its business doing good deeds within your community. One of our mottos is “We raise money to give it away.” Let’s just take a minute to see a few of the things being done each year.
Elks are second among organizations in the number of scholarships given annually in the U.S. The U.S. Government is first. This year, the Alaska State Elks Association gave out many scholarships plus those given by the local lodges.
One of the many youth activities sponsored by Elks each year attracts more than three million participants. It is the annual Elks Basketball Free Throw Hoop Shoot Contest. The contest starts on the local level, and goes through four more levels, finally reaching the national finals where the 72 best (36 boys and 36 girls) compete at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. There are eventually three boys and three girls who become champions and have their names forever recorded on the wall of the Hall of Fame. Imagine the hours these kids put in practicing and competing — which keeps them in a positive environment. There is a similar program for Soccer as well.
Another motto the Elks pledge is “As long as there are veterans, we will never forget them.” Elks work to support Veteran’s Nursing Homes and to aid veterans who are patients in the many VA hospitals across our nation, as well as assisting veterans within the community. In the past years the Elks Lodges within Alaska have taken numerous returning wounded veterans from the Warrior Transition Unit at Ft. Richardson, Elmendorf AFB, Eielson AFB and Ft. Wainwright on bear hunting trips, fishing trips, 4-wheeler excursions, and boating trips to name a few of the many.
Kids who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend a summer camp are able, thanks to the generosity of the Elks Lodge in your town. Each year up to 100 boys and 100 girls attend the Elks Youth summer camp near Sutton at no cost to them or their families. These kids come from all over the state of Alaska and the Elks pay for all costs associated with travel and the camp. There are 80 acres at the camp and these kids are able to swim in the Elks private lake, and participate in various supervised activities.
This list could go on and on, but like everything else, a little information goes a long way. Every Lodge in this beautiful state of Alaska stands ready to help its community and its state. Just talk to them and you will understand what a treasure you have just down the street!
To find a lodge near you, visit elks.org/lodges .
• Perry Streeter is the Alaska State Elks Association Public Relations Chair, past president and current member of the Palmer Elks.