NEWARK — Newark Elks Lodge No. 1249 joined with six other West Central New York District Lodges to distribute gifts and to socialize with the many veterans who reside at the Canandaigua Medical Center.
Each year, the lodges including; Rochester, Canandaigua, Lyons, Wolcott, Webster/Fairport, Seneca and Newark, collect lap robes, afghans, clothing, personal care items, books, paper products, and other needed gifts to distribute to the veterans at Christmas time.
The residents claim that many of their days are quiet and few visitors are seen in the halls, so they particularly enjoy the Elks, not only bringing them Christmas surprises, but listening to their many stories from the past.
Nicholas Santiago, who served twenty six years in the Army, said that he has lived at the Canandaigua Medical Center for five years and that he sees the Elks visits as a 'morale booster' as some of those living there have no one.
Retired Navy Veteran of sixteen years, Mike Jankoski, said that he was fortunate as he was scheduled to return to his home in Phelps to his wife and three sons within the next four weeks if he continued to make progress from his stroke. He went on to add that he felt that the Elks visits were, "Fantastic! Outstanding!" He agreed with Santiago that some residents have very little contact with the outside world and seem to have been forgotten by family and friends.
The forty four volunteers from the district distributed over $13,000.00 worth of items including; 850 toiletries, 224 hats, scarves and mittens, and 97 afghans and lap robes. Newark Lodge alone contributed over $3,100.00. Many thanks went out to all those who donated items and shared their day with the residents.
For further information on goals, programs and projects supported by the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks (B.P.O.E.), call 331-1249 or visit www.elks.org.
— Marlene Donk