Two Lakewood Lodges, One Warm Winter

Of the 30 places in the United States named Lakewood, five are home to Elks Lodges—like Lakewood, New Jersey, and Lakewood, Colorado.

These two Lakewoods are separated by roughly 1,800 miles. But their name and an Elks presence aren’t the only attributes that tie the northeastern town and western city together: each experiences severe winter weather.

The Lakewood Lodges in New Jersey and Colorado used Community Investments Program grants to help their communities prepare for the cold winter months ahead. This fall, both held successful children’s winter coat giveaways.

Lakewood, Colo., Lodge No. 1777 used its Beacon Grant to purchase 140 coats for children in preschool through sixth grade. On two weekends in September and October, the Lodge opened for parents and guardians to bring their child in to pick out a new coat from a plethora of styles and colors.

Grants Coordinator Venita Collier personally delivered flyers advertising the event to all 35 schools in the county. The schools spread the word too, emailing the details of the giveaway to every parent.

“The kids were so appreciative and thankful they could have a coat,” Collier said.

Collier, her daughter and other Elks members distributed nearly 100 coats over both weekends. The remaining coats were brought to a local elementary school; the school liaison helped Collier get the winter gear in the hands of students who couldn’t make it to the Lodge.

“The reason I joined the Elks was for the charity,” said Collier, who has been the Lodge’s Grants Coordinator since 2005. “This is one of the projects with the most need that I have done.”

Around the same time, Lakewood, N.J., Lodge No. 1432 held a coat event of its own.

The Elks hoped to focus the grant project on youth. After discussions with Lodge member Oscar Orellana, the Supervisor of Guidance at Lakewood Public Schools, it was agreed that providing winter coats would both supply a necessity and lift the children’s spirits.

With the help of a Gratitude Grant, the Lodge planned a giveaway event for early fall. The school district distributed flyers to students, and the event was publicized through email and social media.

The Lodge purchased about 200 coats, and they gave away every single one at the event. But even after the event ended, the Lodge purchased 35 more coats for children who couldn’t find one in their size.

“The very next day as I was driving to work, I saw kids waiting at the bus stop proudly wearing their new coats,” said Joe Barina, the Lodge’s Exalted Ruler. “It was then that I knew what we did made a difference.”

Both Lakewood Lodges were heartened by the success of their respective projects, and both anticipate repeating them next year.

“Our members thought this was fantastic,” Collier said. “All the volunteers felt it was such an honor to do this.”

Grant applications are open through January 17, 2022. For more information on our available grants and their guidelines, check out our Grant Toolkits. If you have any questions about grant projects, the CIP can be reached at 773/775-4730 or LodgeGrants@elks.org.


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