Gratitude Grant Funds Kids Safety in Gardner, Mass.
Few things in childhood hold more meaning than learning to ride a bike. The evolution from tricycle to training wheels to two-wheeler mirrors the process of growing up. The freedom for kids, newly able to balance on their own, can seem boundless—even if one is only allowed to ride to the end of the block and back.

Gardner, Mass., Lodge No. 1426 knows that such liberty should be paired with caution. With funding from the Gratitude Grant, the Gardner Lodge held its annual Kids Safety Day in June 2021. The free event featured bicycle helmet giveaways to nearly 200 children in need and bike safety demonstrations.

Children from across the community were invited to attend by their schools and day care providers, and the event was publicized by the city of Gardner itself.

The Gardner Lodge held the Kids Safety Day at the end of the school year, providing an educational and enjoyable afternoon for kids on the precipice of summer vacation.

Along with the focus on bike safety, Daren the Lion, the D.A.R.E. mascot, showed up to promote drug awareness. The fire department was on hand to do a demonstration of their ladder truck and promote fire safety. The Gardner police department handed out backpacks filled with masks and hand sanitizer, and fitted bike helmets for each child.

This event has become a mainstay of the Gardner community—with the Lodge has used a Gratitude Grant to hold the Kids Safety Day since 2010. Being forced to cancel in 2020 due to the pandemic only upped the anticipation for the event’s return this year.

“Most of our members have been asking when we would have the next Kids Safety Day, and wanting to know how they could help,” said Exalted Ruler Lisa Thompson. “It takes a lot of people to put this event on, but we have plenty of volunteers who want to take part.”

While the event was held in collaboration with several other groups in the community, the Gardner Lodge is the driving force behind it. Elks took on a multitude of responsibilities: scheduling the appearances by police and fire departments, purchasing helmets, backpacks and other supplies, setting up and working various booths, and cleaning up afterward. With $3,000 in funds—the Lodge received both available Gratitude Grant bonuses for membership support and Fidelity Club membership—the Gardner Lodge was able to fund the entire event.

As school let out and summer began, the Gardner Elks held an event which not only offered recreation and socialization after a long year without, but also prepared kids to stay safe in their seasonal fun.

The Elks National Foundation helps Lodges serve their communities by offering Gratitude Grants of up to $3,000. To find out more about Gratitude Grants and the Community Investments Program, visit

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