The Oakland Park Elks Lodge 2407 has put together and donated 50 backpacks to help homeless veterans throughout Broward County.
The backpacks will be distributed by the United Way of Broward County as needed.
"We are so grateful to Elks Lodge #2407 for coming together and donating critical supplies for our veterans in need,” Kathleen Cannon, president and CEO of United Way of Broward County, said in an email. “The donations that we receive from the Elks Lodge and other organizations help us to provide the critical support that is needed by so many in our community.”
Douglas Satran, the first openly gay exalted ruler, or president, of the Elks Lodge Oakland Park 2407, told the Gazette that the backpacks were filled with water, food, toiletries and other essential needs. The program was paid for by the national fraternal organization’s Freedom Grant.
“One of the Elks’ mottos is that so long as there are veterans, they will never be forgotten,” Satran explained. “Partnering with a group like the United Way is a fantastic way for us to really tap into what our motto is … We’re looking at all the ways we can to continually get involved and get out there and get our hands into it.”
The lodge has also participated in food drives and creating welcome home packages for veterans moving into homes after being homeless. The packages include curtains, towels, bedsheets, pillows, pots and pans and other important items to start a new life; the lodge is planning on participating again in early 2022. Veterans or friends and family of veterans who need support can go to missionunitedbroward.org.
The other part of the Elks’ charity work is helping local children, which they do by supporting the Harry Anna Investment Fund and the Elks National Foundation. On Sept. 16, the lodge is partnering with the ladies of Lips to host Drag It Out, a fundraiser for the Harry Anna Investment Fund, with proceeds (including all tips) going to children’s therapy services and overnight youth camps. Satran mentioned that he and other members of the lodge are planning on dressing in drag as well. Many esquires and knights of the lodge are also gay.
“We’re trying to become more visible to let people know we’re here and this is what we do,” he explained. “The Elks are open to all …come in, have a drink, learn about who we are.”
Drag It Out is Sept. 16 at the Oakland Park Elks Lodge, 240 Prospect Road in Oakland Park, with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. Dinner is served at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 or $25 at the door, benefiting the Harry Anna Foundation. Don’t forget your dollar bills! Call the lodge at 954-563-2407 to reserve a ticket or for more information.