Dowagiac Elks donate to Battle Creek VA hospital

Published 12:19 pm Monday, November 9, 2020

DOWAGIAC — A local organization is making sure a veterans’ hospital has the supplies it needs to serve its patients.

The Dowagiac Elks Lodge recently received a Freedom Grant from the Elks National Veterans Service Commission and donated $2,500 worth of goods to the Battle Creek VA Medical Center on Friday.

This year, the Elks National Veterans Service Commission awarded Freedom Grants of $2,500 to 325 lodges with projects or donations that serve veterans and active-duty military members.

“We’ve had a relationship with the VA Medical Center for a long time,” said Dowagiac Elks Inner Guard Susie Gendron. “Normally, we would be able to visit with them to play bingo and provide dinner to celebrate Veterans Day. That has changed this year. We are only able to do donations, but we couldn’t be happier to do so.”

The grant funds were broken up into three categories: $700 for hygiene items, $700 for food and $1,100 for clothing items. The lodge purchased items including sweatshirts, jeans, hats, winter gloves and coats, underwear, shoes, shampoo, body wash, deodorant, hairbrushes and combs.

The lodge would also normally take musical instrument donations to the medical center to be used in the hospital’s musical therapy program, which offers patients ensembles, lessons, stress management lessons, recordings and yoga.

“We started just a couple years ago,” Gendron said. “Somebody had a guitar they wanted to donate. We took the guitar up to the hospital and a patient immediately started playing. After seeing that, we talked to supervisors and have been donating instruments ever since. Music is great therapy for anybody.”

Through charity and volunteer work, the Elks continue to be active in the community. The Elks has donated a lodge record $10,500 to organizations this year, including $3,500 to C. Wimberley’s Feed the Hungry collection campaign last week.

Due to its activity in the community and its donations to the Grand Lodge, every grant application submitted by the Dowagiac Elks this year has been approved by the Elks National Foundation. The National Foundation encouraged lodges to focus on people and programs in need.

“[$10,500] is the highest amount we can be awarded per year,” Gendron said. “Different levels of giving earns you the opportunity to apply for more grants. Every grant we applied for, we got. These grants allow us to do more for the community. It’s all about giving.”

Gendron said the Elks’ efforts would not be possible without the support of the Dowagiac community.

“We appreciate community support because without them, we wouldn’t be able to give back,” she said. “They support us and we support them in turn. The desire to give back like this is why we become Elks.”