In the holiday spirit, Amsterdam Elks sponsors families

AMSTERDAM – The Amsterdam Elks aren’t known for their covert operations, but recently members have made secret deliveries to local families in a happy holiday surprise.

After members started donating new toys to support local families, Cheryl Galarneau said the lodge decided to take it to the next level by adopting local families in need who were not receiving other support this season. holidays.

The city chapter of the Fraternal Charitable Organization successfully applied to the Elks National Foundation for a pair of grants totaling $ 5,500, then contacted local service organizations and agencies in Montgomery County to identify the families.

“We found out what these families really needed and decided to use these grants that the Grand Elks give to lodges that do community service,” said Galarneau.

The lodge is sponsoring eight local families with 18 children of all ages this year using grant funds. Families have provided needs and wish lists that the Elks have been shopping for over the past few weeks to ensure they are having a happy holiday that might not have been possible otherwise.

“There are a lot of needs,” said Galarneau.

The requested gifts included dolls, miniature cars, board games for families to enjoy together, art supplies, pajamas, winter coats, bedding and more. Galarneau said the lodge has tried to balance needs and wants.

“When you’re looking for specific items that kids ask Santa Claus, then that’s something special,” Galarneau said.

For some families, an older sibling looks after siblings who will also receive at least a few gifts from the Elks.

Exalted Sovereign Patricia Cudmore, Principal Knight Patricia Eckler and Galarneau took charge of the shopping, making multiple trips to make sure the kids got the special gifts they dreamed of.

The rest of the lodge of about 82 members stepped in when it was time to wrap the gifts and whenever any other help was needed, Cudmore said.

“When we all come together and work together, so much can be accomplished,” said Galarneau.

The lodge quietly carried gifts to families Thursday and Friday while the kids were at school or otherwise occupied to keep the surprise a secret for Christmas morning.

“It was just a joy to know the kids are going to be happy,” Cudmore said. “It might bring tears to my eyes.”

Sponsored families will also receive at least one bag of non-perishable food donated by lodge members.

Individual toys donated by members in an overflowing box will go to a local drive this week to support families in the area.

The Elks hope to sponsor families again next year with their new experience under their belt, Cudmore said.

“I think we’re going to do it bigger and better,” Cudmore said.

This year’s vacation activity was a first for the Amsterdam Elks and one of their first efforts to give back to the community since the former lodge at 8 Fourth Ave. suffered extensive damage in a fire in August 2020.

The Elks built a new home this year at 226 W. Main St. in the old Marcellino’s Pizza building. Members were thrilled with the opportunity this holiday season to support local families and be ready to resume their activities in the community in the future, Cudmore said.

“I think this will show the community that we’re back and better than ever,” Cudmore said.

“It was a great experience to be able to provide for our community. More than anything, this is the raison d’être of the Elks, ”said Galarneau.

Contact Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

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