Dowagiac organization sets donation record in 2020

DOWAGIAC — The COVID-19 pandemic may have dominated 2020 headlines, but that did not stop the Dowagiac Elks Lodge from having a record-setting year.

The Elks donated a lodge-record $10,500 in grants to organizations this year.

“When we are faced with adversity, we can choose to surrender or prevail,” said Dowagiac Elks Inner Guard Susie Gendron. “Our Lodge made the choice to prevail.”

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.

In May, the lodge was able to donate $2,500 to St. Francis Outreach to provide food backpacks for children in need. Through an Elks Spotlight Grant, the lodge was able to donate $2,000 to Cass County Council on Aging in June to help provide the community’s senior population with food through the Meals on Wheels program.

Using the Beacon Grant, the lodge was able to give $3,500 to Feed the Hungry in November to help stock local food pantries. Through funds received via the Elks Freedom Grant, the lodge was able to donate clothing, food and hygiene supplies to the Battle Creek Veterans Hospital in November.

The pandemic required businesses and organizations throughout the state to adapt and make changes and the Elks lodge was no different. The lodge made changes to both its infrastructure and hours of operation.

“Our members worked tirelessly to give our lodge a much overdue facelift including new carpet, paint and a deep cleaning,” Gendron said. “June brought the opening of indoor dining with new restrictions and safety policies. Our members and community embraced the change to do what was needed to keep one another safe.”

The Elks also hosted its Guys & Dolls golf outing in September, an annual endeavor that raises money for the lodge’s scholarship fund.

Gendron is humbled by the support the lodge has received this year and looks forward to what 2021 has in store.

“We are thankful for the support that we received from our Lodge Members and our Community,” Gendron said. “It is because of its continued support that we are able to generously give back to our community. This year may have been filled with a lot of strife and struggle, but it was also filled with the spirit of giving, compassion and resilience.  Our lodge is humbled to be a part of this great community.  It is our hope that as we leave this year behind us and look to the future that we don’t forget the lessons that 2020 has taught us.”

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