The Story of Elkdom (taken from nyselks.org)
The Story of Elkdom
The organization first began as the "Jolly Corks", a group of artists and thespians, and was led by London born comic, singer and dance, Charles Vivian. The Jolly Corks originally congregated for their own amusement, but when one of the Jolly Corks died leaving his wife and children alone, they decided to dedicate the group to helping the needy.
On February 16, 1868, in New York City, the Jolly Corks formed the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, lead by Mr. Vivian. As social activities and benefit performances increased, the popularity of the group swept across the country. Soon, groups from other cities were requesting permission to form their own Lodges.
The Elks then asked the New York State Legislature for a Charter that would allow the Grand Lodge to establish Lodges anywhere in the United States. The Charter was granted and on March 10, 1871, the founding group received the first local charter as New York Lodge No. 1.
Throughout history, the spirit of the Elks is evident. During World War I, the Elks funded the first two field hospitals in France and also built a 72-room community house in Camp Sherman, Ohio. They also built a 700-bed rehabilitation hospital in Boston and raised money for the Salvation Army's frontline Canteens.
The Elks continued in World War II and was one of the only civilian organizations who helped recruit construction workers and contributed books to the Merchant Marines.
During the Korean conflict, the Elks donated more than 500,000 pints of blood to help wounded soldiers and also donated money for a recreation pavilion at the Navy Hospital on Guam, for casualties of the Vietnam War.
Even more recently, the Elks showed their dedication during Operation Desert Storm by writing letters to help build the morale of the soldiers. And still today, the Elks of New York continue the tradition and uphold the four cardinal virtues of the Lodge....Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity
Times have changed since its institution all those years ago. Now is a time when technology rules and computers set the pace, the Elks spirit of dedication to the community remains constant. The organization is dedicated to service to the community; specifically handicapped children and veterans. It sponsors community activities such as food basket donations to the needy, scholarships for high school students and many other charitable functions.
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