The Cass County Elks Lodge is known for helping out with different community activities and service project but few outsiders know the true meaning behind theorganization.
According to member Russell Love, the Elks Lodge is a benevolent organization, for both men and women, whose main function is do good work in the community. The only two requirements for members are that they believe in God and be an American.
“It’s just a group of Americans giving back,” Love said. “Our Elks Lodge’s three main focuses are the kids, veterans and Hope Haven.”
Hope Haven is a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Though the Elks originated in the late 1860s in New York as a male group known as the Jolly Corkers, the national group got its true start after World War I. The organization created the first veterans hospitals and started assisting those veterans.
Today, the Elks are still well-known for helping the veterans as the members assist the local VA in any way they can.
“We provide 600 cups of coffee a day, 365 days a year,” said Love. “This past Veteran’s Day, we took 450 pounds of smoked pork butt and took it to the hospital to feed over 900 veterans. We raised the money for that through our annual bass fishing tournament in the fall, and every cent of money from that goes back to the veterans.”
The Elks also donate clothing, and during hunting season use deer hides to make gloves for wheelchair-bound veterans.
“You don’t think about it until you’re the one in the wheelchair,” Love said. “We just do a lot of little things that go a long way.”
Since their start in New York, the Elks Lodge has expanded to help youth and the community in general. Cass County’s Hope Haven benefits in similar ways as the veterans do.
“We provide food, clothes, toys, bedding and many other things to the kids and women there,” Love said.
They are also able to make financial donations and offer physical support for them.
Throughout the year, the Elks Lodge also likes to focus on the kids within the Cass County community.
“We do Hoop Shoot and Soccer Shoot and we team up with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office to do drug awareness with the DARE camp. We provide a lot of funding for that.”
The sheriff’s office held its annual DARE Camp the first week of July, and without the Elks Lodge’s contributions, the kids who attended would not have been able to take home their own fishing supplies.
“The Elks Lodge provides each of the kids and role models with fishing rods and reels,” Deputy Christine Eddleman said. “They are a huge contribution and not just to the camp. During their awards they give out first, second and third place for DARE essays and they give out prize money, so I think it has helped a lot in our schools.”
The goal behind doing so much with drug awareness is to set the kids on the right track to the future.
“The point is to give the kids healthy alternatives to drugs. If we can influence one kid, we have accomplished what we’ve set out to do,” Love said. “If you can plant that one little mustard seed that would grow, so when the time comes they don’t go that route.”
On top of doing drug awareness and sponsoring activities, the Elks Lodge also donates money to the six schools in the area that have Backpack Programs and assist in the Harrisonville Just 4 Me summer program. They also provide scholarships for graduating students each year.
The Elks Lodge’s involvement is possible only through its 325 members.
“We tell the members to find something that you are passionate about to give back to the community, and then get your hands dirty with that,” Love said.
Members get Sunday morning breakfasts and Friday night dinners, as well as a place to go for fellowship with others.
The Cass County chapter is at 2402 N. Missouri 291 in Harrisonville.