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Photo by Dante Fontana
The fact that the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America today claims almost one million members and more than 2,000 lodges nationwide, makes its origins as a band of do-gooding Englishman that formed in 1868 as “The Jolly Corks” to raise medical funds for one member’s ailing wife that much more astounding.
Even more so when you consider the scope of what the service-based organization has accomplished since its ragtag inception just three years after the conclusion of the American Civil War.
Locally, Placerville Elks Lodge 1712, which operated in Shingle Springs since 2004, is upholding the organization’s motto – “Elks Care, Elks Share” – in several ways that keep with the group’s overall mission to “inculcate the principles of Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity….” Although every Elks Lodge staunchly defends values of benevolence and patriotism, they also oversee a separate priority project. In El Dorado County, disabled children and military veterans are the beneficiaries of Placerville Elks’ goodwill.
It’s little surprise that Placerville Elks’ has 600 members and that their efforts to help children and honor military vets has and continues to resonate deeply within the community – in general a close-knit, charitably-minded bunch. “They really give back, and really care,” says Kris Thayer, assistant publicity chair of the Placerville Elks Lodge. “If people know we are having a fundraiser, they always come out to help.”
Support comes by way of attendance to the Elks’ affordable bi-weekly taco and pasta nights; its monthly buffet breakfast; an annual “Hoop Shoots” competition; and tireless fund-raising courtesy of raffles, sewing nights, dances, blood drives and countless ancillary events that honor the group’s commitment to providing visual, speech, and physical therapies for children in need. The Elks also sponsor essay contests and scholarship programs for area students, participate with Toys for Tots, support initiatives for a drug-free community, and are closely affiliated with the Boy Scouts and Family Connections’ P.R.I.D.E. & Joy, a program that provides early intervention for children with special needs.
“I am very proud of the work we have done on behalf of children, but also the military,” Thayer adds. “We respect the American flag and try very hard to honor our vets, many of who are Elks – a few of our members are retired generals!”
Credit this sense of national and civic pride for the longevity of the Elks, which, second only to the government, is the nation’s largest fundraiser for the causes it champions. The same attributes are also what convince people from all walks of life to join the Elks brotherhood, which for 10 years has also been a sisterhood. Despite the Elks phenomenal growth, they find ways to not only connect with community and cause, but also with members nationwide. Every Lodge, including the one in Shingle Springs – “Where Old Friends Meet New Friends” – offer RV hookups to accommodate extended family.
Placerville Elks Lodge 1712 events are open to the public. To learn more, visit placervilleelks.org.