HUNTINGTON — Continuing its tradition of benevolence, the Huntington Elks Lodge No. 313 recently turned its efforts on the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia.
Jill Goheen, grant coordinator for the Elks, said the lodge has applied for grants available through the national Elks foundation over the past few years. While the grants come in varying amounts, and with different conditions, the lodge has examined areas of need in the region and found causes they were able to help.
Using a Gratitude Grant from the Elks National Foundation, the local Elks lodge received $2,000, which it divided between the Children’s Home Society offices at 203 6th Ave. in Huntington and the Hovah Hall Underwood Children’s Home in Ona.
Elks members purchased a play set and built it last week on the grounds of the offices in Huntington, where supervised visitation and sibling visitation take place.
“It’s a beautiful property with a beautiful yard, but there was nothing out there for the kids,” said Goheen, who writes the applications for the various grants. “If the kids are meeting there, now there are some things outside for them to do, and play on.”
She said one child who spotted the purchased play set was excitedly waiting for it to be built.
“We are glad to finally get it in there,” she said.
At the Underwood Children’s Home, Elks members talked with staff and the children staying at the facility, ranging in age from 10-18, about their needs and wants.
“We went and met some of the kids there and talked about what they would like to do or have,” Goheen said.
The staff created a wish list and, using their grant money, the Elks got a number of recreational items for the home, including a replacement net for the volleyball court in the gym, a pingpong table, arts and crafts supplies, hand-held video games, and sports items to help keep the children active.
“One boy said he really loved RC (remote control) cars,” Goheen said. “We got some of those with rechargable batteries so the kids can get out and race with them.”
Though the group did a contactless drop-off of the items at the home, Goheen said the delivery “was like Christmas for them.”
In the past, grants from the Elks have benefited other local groups and organizations, including Harmony House, Golden Girl Group Home and Facing Hunger Foodbank.
“Elks, traditionally, is more about benevolence,” Goheen said. “It’s more about the giving side than the bar and the club that everyone thinks about.”
Exalted Ruler Richard Maack agrees about the main premise of the club, one of about 2,000 lodges in the United States.
“Really, that is our mission: to help communities,” he said. “Charity is one of our founding principles.”
In addition to what the Elks do on the national and local levels with charitable grants, Lodge 313 is a fiduciary of the Tom C. Smith Trust Fund.
Smith, the first mayor of Chesapeake, Ohio, was a member of the local lodge who died in 1970. In his will, Maack said Smith designated the trustees of the Elks as fiduciaries of his property, requiring 100% of any proceeds or profits to be given back to the communities of Chesapeake or Huntington.
“We look for opportunities every month to help out where we see fit,” Maack said.
Huntington’s Elks lodge, which has been around for more than 100 years, continues to seek members who want to give back, and encourages current members to be involved with its projects around the community. More information can be found at elks.org.
“Yes, we have the social club that is a place for members to come together to congregate and socialize, but that’s just a member privilege,” he said. “The real basis for (the Elks’) existence is charitable outreach.”