Elks mark 150th anniversary with grants to local groups

The Greene County Early Learning Center, the Jefferson public library and the Jefferson park and recreation department recently received funds for special projects from Jefferson Elks Lodge 2306 as part of the Elks Grand Lodge’s celebration of the 150th anniversary of its founding.

Exalted ruler Bill Allen (left) and lodge treasurer Russ Johnson (right) present a check to Alayna Hedges and Early Learning Center director Cherie Cerveny.

In keeping with a theme of 150 years, the Grand Lodge offered each local lodge that met its Elks National Foundation quota $1,500 to provide as grants to local projects at their discretion. Lodge 2306 completed the application for the funds and received the money in mid-January.

Cherie Cerveny, director of the Greene County Early Learning Center, requested help in paying for a new freezer. The Elks provided them $250 for that project.

Staff at the Jefferson public library had contacted Jefferson Elks for assistance with a new activity area, a “Makerspace” in the children’s library. In the Makerspace, children can build and create things using computer programming, stop-motion animation, circuits, and robotics.

Bill Allen (left) and Russ Johnson (right) present a check for STEM kits to children’s librarian Terry Clark.

The Elks provided $500 to purchase seven different STEM kits for the new Makerspace. The kits will help stimulate skills in science, technology, engineering and math. Children will be able to problem-solve with Rapunzel, the Three Billy Goats Gruff, and the Gingerbread Man, discover the science of magnets and motion, survive an earthquake using engineering skills, and build a tree house.

Children’s librarian Terry Clark said, “We are grateful for the support of our local Elks Lodge in creating this new area that will spark the children’s imagination and learning.”

Russ Johnson (left) and Bill Allen (right) present a check to JPRD director Vicky Lautner.

Vicky Lautner, Jefferson parks and recreation director, contacted the Elks Lodge when there was a need for funds for the Wednesday after-school program. The Jefferson Elks lodge was able to provide JPRD with $750 for equipment including a portable electronic scoreboard, 12 exercise hotspots, and 6 dozen jump ropes. More than 90 of our local children are involved with the program.

“As with any fraternal organization, existence and survival is directly proportional to our membership and their activity in the Lodge. If you are a current member that hasn’t been active, come help us,” exalted ruler Bill Allen said. “If you are not a member but would like to know more about us, please feel free to call us at 515-386-2106. We will make arrangements to meet with you to tell you about our Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Jefferson Elks Lodge #2306.”

About the Elks – Charles A S Vivian landed in New York from England in November 1867. Vivian introduced the so-called “cork trick” to Richard Steirly, Hugh Dougherty, Cool Burgess, and Henry Vandemark, which resulted in the creation of the “Jolly Corks.” From that time on the, the group met regularly on Sunday evenings in the boarding house owed by Mrs. Giesman at 188 Elm Street.

Shortly afterward, the group had grown rather large for Mrs. Giesman’s quarters. Their social sessions, it has been reported by Mrs. Giesman, were a little too noisy. The Jolly Corks then moved their quarters to 17 Delancy Street. Initiation at this time was $.50 and increased to $2.

On Feb. 2, 1868, Vivian, presided over the meeting and George F McDonald made a motion that the Jolly Corks become a fraternity along benevolent and fraternal lines and that a Committee be appointed to make up rules and regulations therefor. The committee reported and recommended that the “Jolly Corks” be merged into the “Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.” At that time, the initiation fee was increased to $5. Thus on February 16, 1868, the Benevolent and Patriotic Order of Elks was established.

From that small beginning, the Elks have grown to 781,000 membership in all 50 states and several foreign territories.

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