KEVIN JENKINGS, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mineral Area Community Elks Lodge 2583 recently secured a grant in the amount of $2,500 and has presented $1,250 in donations to each of two Parkland senior centers.
Former Exalted Ruler Anna Kleiner, the lodge’s grant coordinator and local fundraising chair for the Elks National Foundation, explained how the grant money was secured and why the senior centers were chosen as recipients.
“We awarded what they call the Gratitude Grant to local charities, the Park Hills and Bonne Terre senior centers that are very deserving of this kind of support,” she said. “The grant itself was $2,500, and we divided it in two for each of them to use for their meal program. It comes from the Elks National Foundation.
“That’s a foundation that all Elks around the United States are encouraged to donate to. Each lodge is supposed to try to meet a minimum per capita donation level to qualify for these kinds of grants, and each year the Mineral Area Elks has achieved that minimum per capita donation level at our lodge level. That has enabled us to apply for these kinds of grants.”
When asked why the lodge chose to make donations to the food pantries rather than some other local charity, Kleiner said, “What we do is we try to identify the neediest people in our area. In the past, we have given to food pantries. We have given grants to a number of different organizations that provide some kind of food resource to people.”
Kleiner mentioned several other ways the lodge has addressed needs in the community through the years.
“We have a Christmas basket program that we do each year, and we’ve received $6,000 in grant money to support that in partnership with East Missouri Action Agency,” she said. “We have also supported different regional shelters in the past. There are a lot of good places doing a lot of good things around here, but you try to pass the money around to different organizations.”
With so many local organizations seeking to help the needy, how does the lodge make a final determination of which ones ultimately receive the donation?
“I kind of keep my feelers out in the community to see what organizations are out there and what [non-profit organization] might be meeting one of the priority areas of the Elks National Foundation,” Kleiner said. “They like to help youth, homeless communities, food resources, and veterans. So, we’ve identified a number of organizations with those kinds of programs.
“The board of directors and the lodge membership evaluate those opportunities and make a decision each year as to who might be a worthy recipient of these grants. The motto of the Elks is ‘Elks care, Elk share.’ We’re really here to help our local community and the organizations within it to try to meet people’s needs, and I think this kind of program through the foundation is ideal for doing that.”