By Julie Brown Patton
For the first time, Eureka’s annual Patron of the Year Award goes to a group in 2017: the Eureka-Pacific Elks Lodge 2644. It was presented at the city’s Independence Day Celebration.
Eureka Mayor Kevin Coffey said the award’s recipients over the past 10 years have changed lives and helped enrich the freedom and quality of life for their neighbors. He said the award is designed to honor contributions of those who take generous actions toward helping the United States, Missouri, Eureka and the overall region be a better and safer place to live.
“The Elks selflessly and quietly help so many others,” said Coffey. “In fact, they raised $200,000 last year for causes that benefit police, firefighters, flood relief, schools and veterans.”
Elks Lodge 2644 Treasurer Brad Beebe said some of the organizations supported by their members are Focus Marines Foundation, Green Beret Casualty Fund, Honor Flights, USO, Vets Golden Age Games, Wreaths Across America, Jefferson Barracks, Hero’s Care, Eureka Disaster Relief Committee, Eureka Fire Department, Eureka Police Department, Sunny Hill Charity, Alzheimer’s Association, Boy Scouts of America, Our Little Haven and Circle of Concern.
“We have some of the most unbelievable committees and group efforts and people who are passionate about causes,” said Beebe.
Examples of specific activities taken by Elks Lodge 2644 members to support veterans, children and others include:
● Holding trivia nights to benefit children’s food weekend backpack programs
● Hosting veterans open houses to assist with Veterans Administration benefits and enrollment, counseling, family services, housing, employment and educational opportunities
● Providing Veterans Day nursing home lunches
● Hosting blood drives
● Supplying Memorial Day veterans’ meals
● Assisting with Memorial Day 5K for veterans and scholarships
● Providing military care packages
● Making financial donations to American Legion riders, who donate to children’s hospitals, schools, severely wounded service members and scholarships
● Giving Eureka High School scholarships
● Holding barbecues to support Homeless Veteran Aid programs
● Hosting silent auctions and 50/50 raffles
● Sponsoring the local, annual Red, White and Blue 5K Run
“To be recognized as patriots on the Fourth of July is a real honor,” said Beebe. “Our members are so entrenched in the fabric of this community and work so well with each other. It’s truly a team effort. We are thrilled to receive this award.”
Coffey said city leaders and staffers are honored to provide the Elks with this award because they are truly deserving of community recognition.
Lodge 2644 is located at 19 West 1st St. in Eureka. The club was initiated approximately 35 years ago. Beebe said it now has more than 500 members.
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is an American fraternal order founded in 1868 originally as a social club in New York City. Beebe said many people don’t realize that the Elks invented the U.S. Flag Day observation.