MASSENA - The North Central District of the New York State Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has been challenged this year to raise funds in support of USO Fort Drum.
Our service men and women are making remarkable personal sacrifices for our country in Afghanistan, and other forward operating bases around the world. The families of these heroes are also making sacrifices, coping with long separations and the strong emotions that accompany a deployment.
Thats why the USO Fort Drum is committed to sharing a touch of home with our troops and their family members. They provide care package items, greet soldiers at the Fort Drum flight line when they return home from Afghanistan, support Wounded Warriors, host programs like United Through Reading, and maintain a state-of-the-art center filled with amenities and activities.
Support for our troops and veterans is a fundemental belief of the Elks, said Jim Root, Massena Lodge Exhalted Ruler. He explained that most people outside of our organization dont realize that throughout history, the spirit of the Elks is evident. During World War I, the Elks funded the first two field hospitals in France and also built a 72-room community house in Camp Sherman, Ohio. They also built a 700-bed rehabilitation hospital in Boston and raised money for the Salvation Armys frontline Canteens.
During World War II the Elks was one of the only civilian organizations who helped recruit construction workers and contributed books to the Merchant Marines.
During the Korean conflict, Elks donated more than 500,000 pints of blood to help wounded soldiers and also donated money for a recreation pavilion at the Navy Hospital on Guam, for casualties of the Vietnam War.
Each year the Massena Elks Lodge sponsors a Veterans Day Lunch between noon and 3 p.m., which is free to any local veteran. Mr. Root said, So long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them. We thought that it would be a suitable day to also raise money in support of the Fort Drum USO, so this year we will open our lodge to the public on Veterans Day from 5-7 p.m. for a turkey dinner with all the fixings for $8 per person with all proceeds donated to the USO.