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Elks assist veterans, and also help kids

Kearney Hub - 8/26/2017

It is estimated there are 47,000 homeless military veterans in the United States. Although some Americans might be satisfied to dismiss these veterans as unimportant, Elks lodges around the nation refuse to turn their backs on the men and women who served and protected our nation.

This weekend as Nebraska Elks gather in Kearney for their state convention at Younes Conference Center, members will be swapping ideas how to keep alive and improve some of the relief efforts and youth programs the Elks are known for.

One of those efforts, overseen by the Elks National Veterans Service Commission, involves collecting the hides of game animals to make gloves to protect the hands of veterans who are bound in wheelchairs. Each time a veteran propels forward, the gloves on his hands are reminders that his or her sacrifices are appreciated.

Elks also see that leather is available to veterans for their crafts projects. Elks sponsor picnics for hospitalized veterans, and entertainment and visits at veterans hospitals and retirement homes. At the government's request, Elks are providing welcome home baskets for returning veterans. These men and women may be battling emotional trauma, so they need to know that here they're among friends.

The Elks' tradition of service to veterans began in World War I when the fraternal organization embraced the needs of wounded soldiers by building hospitals in Europe and the United States. During World War II Elks led paper drives and sold war stamps. In 1941 the War Department asked the Elks for help recruiting for the Army Cadet Corps. Later, Elks branched out to help recruiting for other arms of the military. Again and again, Elks demonstrated their patriotism.

Elks also have shown they have a huge soft spot for youths through the annual Elks Hoop Shoot. Nineteen Elks Lodges across Nebraska conduct the basketball free-throw contests locally for boys and girls ages 8-13 to provide spirited competition and help youths develop new friendships. More than 5,000 Nebraska youths competed last year.

To the Elks gathering this weekend in Kearney, including national leader Malcolm McPherson of New Jersey, we say welcome to Kearney, and thanks for all you do for our communities and nation.


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