Disabled Parachute veteran, family receive food and gift cards through Elks Lodge efforts | PostIndependent.com
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Disabled Parachute veteran, family receive food and gift cards through Elks Lodge efforts

A bronze elk statue on top of an Elks Lodge in Rifle. Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

A disabled veteran and his family of eight from Parachute were treated to a special box over the holidays, thanks to the efforts of the area Elks Lodges.

Glenwood Springs Lodge No. 2286 Exalted Ruler Jim Otto said the local lodge and its veterans committee used grant funds obtained through the Elks National Foundation to help deliver to the family $300 in gift cards and food.

It came right before Christmas day.



“The veteran recently moved here to live with his mother in a trailer,” Otto said. “He needed some help with a box of food. And through further contact and stories, it was determined that he had a bunch of kids that needed gifts, too.”

In addition to the individual $100 gift cards to Clark’s Market & Pharmacy, the Battlement Mesa grocery in return donated an additional $200 in shopping cards.



The unidentified veteran and his family also received a supply of toys and clothing. Garfield County Veterans Services Officer David Pruett, who originally informed the Elks of the family’s plight, also helped obtain a list of the kids’ names, clothing sizes and ages.

“I think this is what we thrive on,” Otto said. “This is what the Elks was made for. We can’t help everybody but we’d sure like too; all the veterans.”

Looking to regroup

Garfield County’s Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, a national fraternal organization that gathers donations for things like youth programs and veterans services, were met with some odd ends in 2020.

With lodges in both Rifle and Glenwood Springs, regular operations at the two locations were hampered by various COVID-19 restrictions. And for a social club that uses proceeds from drink sales and various fundraisers, closures don’t help.

“The Elks Lodge does quite a bit this time of year and, unfortunately, this time of year — this year — has been tough,” Otto said.

Membership drives, used to expand an organization and simply get their name out there, have mainly taken the brunt due to COVID-19.

“We’re hoping to bring some more members into the lodge,” Otto said. “That would be one of our main goals, to get our membership back up.”

Right now, there are about 550 Elks members in the area. The current exalted ruler said he’d like to sign on at least 25-50 new members in 2021.

Otto said the local Elks lodges also look to regroup with surrounding cohorts and chapters in 2021.

“We missed all of our quarterlies in Colorado Springs and Denver, to meet with other officers of the state and come together and come up with new plans of attack to promote ‘Elkdom,’” Otto said.

But 2020 didn’t go completely without the holiday philanthropy of the Roaring Fork Valley’s local Elks lodges. Also during the holidays, the county’s Elk Lodges filled and delivered to children in need 77 stockings, full with gift cards and homemade baked goods, Otto said.

Local families in need also received food boxes over the holidays. Using a $5,500 grant from the Elks National Foundation, members assembled and delivered 108 meal kits during its Annual Memorial Food Drive.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and local churches helped distribute the food. The Rifle Walmart and New Castle City Market helped provide items at a reduced cost to fill the boxes.

These events go to show, COVID-19 didn’t disrupt every little thing in Garfield County — especially the most critical, said Otto.

“It’s more important to give back to the community and not worry about the bottom line as far as making money this year to pass on,” he said. “We’re fortunate enough that we’re a pretty stable organization.”

rerku@postindependent.com


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