The Marshall Elks Lodge, including the organization’s Texas Elks Sweetheart program, is offering a full schedule of events for this fall, all in an effort to help the local community.
“The purpose of the Texas Elks Sweetheart Program is to promote the program and raise funds to support the Texas Elks State Major Project, which is the Texas Elks Summer Camp and the Special Grant Program for Special Needs Children,” Marshall Elks Lodge Sweetheart Donna Bradley said recently. “Both programs are administered by Texas Elks Children’s Services, Inc. (TESCI).”
Local lodge members and Bradley are busy planning a chili kitchen, shoe drive, golf tournament, and fundraisers all in an effort to help the local community and Texas kids with disabilities. special needs.
Bradley volunteered to be the lodge sweetheart in 2020 and renewed that effort for another year in 2021. Since first entering the role, Bradley has made it his mission to adapt and find new ones. ways to raise funds during the current pandemic.
“Donna has been instrumental in engaging people from all walks of life, raising awareness and developing new fundraising options,” said Renea Oswalt of The Lodge. Donna said members of her lodge, local business owners, individuals in the community and organizations such as the Grand Marshall Chamber of Commerce have been very supportive of the Marshall Sweetheart program. Donna hopes those who give so freely of their time and money to help these children will reap many blessings and know that they have forever changed the children who attend camp and those who receive funds from the grant program. There are so many people who experience illness, loss, loneliness, and other challenges, but still find the kindness and generosity in their hearts to keep giving to others.
Bradley said she was happy to serve.
“What a blessing to be part of an organization and a program that makes my heart happy,” she said.
The Texas Elks Summer Camp facility, located in Gonzales, offers several hundred foster children and children with special needs ages 8-14 the opportunity to attend a training session. camp every summer.
“Every camper leaves camp with more confidence, confidence and a belief in the motto that ‘having a difference doesn’t make a difference,’ said Bradley.“ At camp, the Texas Elk campers have the chance to experience fun activities such as swimming, archery, paintball, a petting zoo, dancing and a day at Sea World, to name a few. ”
Texas Elks has provided approximately $ 1 million in grants to foster children and children with special needs by purchasing orthodontic appliances, hearing aids, eyeglasses, prostheses, specialized equipment, technical aids, in paying for therapy and more, Oswalt said.
“Basically, grants can be made to cover anything that will improve the life of the child,” Oswalt said. “The Marshall Lodge has donated thousands of dollars in grants to families in Marshall, Waskom, Hallsville, New Diana and Carthage in recent years and recently purchased a stationary bike to use in a classroom for a child in the Elysian Fields Elementary School. ”
One fundraiser used by Sweethearts to raise money for camp is the “Red Pig Program,” which can be sponsored by schools, churches, businesses or individuals to help change more lives through Sweetheart programs. .
“In the remaining months of this year we want to bring our red pigs to the classrooms and hope to have a competition between schools and classes to promote,” Bradley said. “The class that raises the most money will receive a fun prize.”
Those wishing to donate can contact Bradley at (903) 926-6834 or visit the Texas Elks Children’s Services Facebook page. Those interested can also follow the Marshall Elks Facebook page to stay up to date.
The Elks are also currently holding a shoe drive, bringing together new and lightly worn shoes of all sizes and styles, Bradley said.
“These shoes are being collected as part of a fundraiser for the Sweetheart program,” she said. “The collected shoes are packed in bags of 25 pairs and weighed when they are picked up. The shoes are used to support micro-business vendors. Microenterprises are small businesses in developing countries. They are usually operated on by the person or family and friends, depending on the size.
A trailer will be located at the next Marshall Fire Ant Festival for guests to drop off donated shoes. For every four pairs of shoes donated, the donor will be placed in a draw for a prize.
Also at the Marshall Fire Ant Festival, the Elks will be hosting a Chili Cook Off fundraising event on October 9-10 at the corner of Wellington Avenue and Austin Street in downtown Marshall.
“We welcome all chili cooks and will need judges,” Oswalt said.