About the Elks
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is one of the oldest and largest fraternal organizations in the country. Since it’s inception in 1868, the Order of Elks has grown to include nearly 1.2 million men and woman in almost 2200 communities.
We do not question one’s religion, nor do we exclude anyone because of creed, race, ethnic origin, education attainment, vocation, material status, or physical stature. We love our country and do not seek to impose different beliefs in place of personal commitments to God, Family, and Country, nor do we ask anyone to act in any manner contrary to the dictates of their conscience. We do not permit religious or political differences to intrude into our organization.
In the Beginning
The moving spirit for the Elks was an Englishman named Charles Algernon Sidney Vivian. Born October 22, 1842, this son of a clergyman was a successful comic singer and dancer in the music halls of London. In November 1867, Vivian arrived in New York City to try his fortune.
Other actors and entertainers soon gravitated toward his magnetic personality. With everything closed on Sunday because of New York City Blue Laws, a group of theatrical people began meeting for their own amusement under Vivian's leadership. A loose organization was formed to make sure the larder was well-stocked for these gatherings. They called themselves the Jolly Corks, a name derived from a trick introduced by Vivian in which the uninitiated purchased a round of refreshments.
When one of their members died shortly before Christmas in 1867, leaving his wife and children destitute, the Jolly Corks decided that in addition to good fellowship, they needed a more enduring organization to serve those in need.
On February 16, 1868, they established the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and elected Vivian to head it. Its social activities and benefit performances increased the popularity of the new Order. Membership grew rapidly. Elks traveling to other cities spread the word of the Brotherhood of Elks. Soon there were requests for Elks Lodges in cities other than New York. In response to these appeals, the Elks asked the New York State legislature for a charter authorizing the establishment of a Grand Lodge with the power to establish local Lodges anywhere in the United States. When the Grand Lodge Charter was issued, the founders then received the first local charter as New York Lodge No. 1 on March 10, 1871.
On the National Level, over the past 135 years the Elks have distributed over $3 billion in cash, goods and services to the nations youth, its veterans, the disadvantaged and handicapped and in support of patriotic and civic programs. The Elks National Foundation was established in 1928 and is an endowment fund that has grown to over $320 million, only income from the fund is expended.
The Elks National Foundation mission is "helping Elks build stronger communities." We do this by providing tomorrow’s leaders, our youth, with a healthy beginning, by providing more scholarships than any organization besides the U.S. Government. For our veterans the Elks’ pledge that, "So long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them". We do this locally and nationally; the Elks started the very first Veterans Hospital.
The Florida Elks Youth Camp is located on 385 acres of rolling hills, forests, lakes and open space in Marion Country, FL. We are proud that the camp has a ratio of one counselor and one counselor in training for every seven campers. We are extremely proud that the American Camping Association accredits our camp as a safe camping environment for children.
The Florida Elks Children Therapy Services have a long history of providing rehabilitation services to needy children. In 1999, the Florida Elks Association decided to close their rehabilitation hospital in Umatilla, to provide services in a different manner. With 20 mobile units consisting of both Physical and Occupation Therapists, we are treating children all over the state of Florida who do not have easy access to therapy as a result of financial consideration or because the children need to be at home due to medical reasons
At the Brandon Lodge, we support our local community by supporting the Brandon Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) with school supplies for children that could not afford them and food donations for needy families. We have a teenager of the Month, during the School Year, providing them with Savings Bonds to help in their college education along with giving Scholarships.
We currently have a program to benefit the veterans in the James A Haley Hospital as well as Liberty Manor in Tampa, Florida. The fourth Wednesday of every month a free dinner is provided to these vets in our lodge. In December, we adopt families that would not have a Christmas without us.
Our Ladies Organization, the B.L.O.E. (Brandon Ladies Of Elks) work hard to help support the Elks. They purchase many articles needed in the Lodge and the Lodge kitchen along with supporting many charities in the area. They give four college scholarships each year and send 10 children to the Florida Elks Camp that would not be able to attend camp without assistance. In addition they provide Food Gift Certificates to the families that Elks adopt at Christmas