Christmas Tribute for Veterans

The Elks of Keizer, Salem, and Lebanon Entertain Our Veterans

Keizer, Salem, and Lebanon Elks Lodges, with the generous support of area businesses and the Elks National Foundation, entertained residents of the Edward C. Allworth Oregon Veterans Home in Lebanon (OVHL) with a Christmas Tribute to Our Veterans on December 18th. The tribute included a concert of holiday favorites performed by the Oregon Spirit Chorus, refreshments, and Christmas gift bags (tote bags) for every Veteran living in the facility. The gift bags consisted of various requested items including blankets, games, playing cards, miscellaneous items, and gift cards to area businesses. This is the second year that the Elks of Keizer and Salem have partnered together to help support the veterans of the Oregon Veterans Home Lebanon. Preparation for this event began in June with Blake Whitson and Corrine Arehart, Exalted Rulers of Salem and Keizer Lodges, respectively meeting to lay the ground work of the event; budget, when to hold the Christmas Tribute, what to include in gift bags to meet the needs of the veterans, food, entertainment, etc. On December 9th, Elks volunteers from both lodges gathered to assemble/fill the gift bags; many hands making quick work – 10 volunteers, 25 man hours, and 511 round trip volunteer miles. An additional 20 hours was spent cutting out and kitting Christmas mouse ornaments kits which were included in each gift bag. On December 18th, volunteers from five lodges gathered at the Oregon Veterans Home Lebanon for the Christmas Tribute to Our Veterans. (21 volunteers, 90 man hours, and 554 roundtrip miles) OVHL staff stated that “this is the largest turnout they had seen for an event such as this.” Our Veterans were so gracious and thankful. Many veterans could not attend but were not left out. The staff delivered their gift bags after the entertainment. Due to logistics, it was left to the staff to deliver them. Our Order has pledged, “So long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them.” “Our organization strongly believes in honoring and supporting our veterans. And we want to make sure that during this holiday season that our Veterans are not forgotten, after all they have done for us this is the least we can do for them” said Exalted Ruler Blake Whitson of Salem Elks Lodge #336. This project was made possible by the 2019 Freedom Grant from Elks National Foundation. (Pictured: Blake Whitson, Exalted Ruler, Salem Lodge #336; Corrine Arehart, Exalted Ruler, Keizer Lodge #2472; Ayden Marin, volunteer and son of Retired Master Sergeants Cherri and Tommy Marin, US Air Force; and Mike Smith, Exalted Ruler, Lebanon Lodge #1663.) (Group photo of Volunteers whose help was invaluable.) (Pictured: Oregon Spirit Chorus) (Photos: 160 Gift Bags; Assembled Veterans enjoying entertainment; Distributing gift bags)