As Elks lodges around the country look to ramp up community service efforts post-pandemic, members are being encouraged to do so with enthusiasm. In fact, Elkdom with Enthusiasm was the message from Maurice W. Koszman, the National President and Grand Exalted Ruler of the Elks of Canada as he met with Manitoba members this past weekend at the annual provincial conference held in Altona. 

"It's been two tough years on service clubs," said Koszman. "They couldn't hold their meetings, as a result, they couldn't have any fundraisers so they found themselves in dire financial state. They've lost some members because they couldn't help out."

Despite the challenges of the last two years, Koszman says the idea is to come back bigger and better than ever. 

"As a service organization, as a charitable organization, we need to ramp it up. Donations have been down, therefore our support in the community has been down so we want to get it boosted as much as we possibly can. And of course, we've got our national charity, the Fund for Children, which also requires funds. So yes, we want to get going as much as we possibly can."

Guy Mullen is a member of the Altona Elks. He said the local lodge almost didn't survive the pandemic but, thanks to some local corporate support, was able to pull through. 

"Pembina Valley Pharmacy helped pay our bills and, Pattern Energy, the company that operates the St. Joseph Wind Farm. That was a God send. Also, the Altona and District Chamber of Commerce helped us be Santas, and we got some provincial money for being couriers for all the businesses in town during the Christmas season. If it wasn't for that, I don't know where we would be. I would like to thank those people personally, and all the people in town who kept us going because now we are really rolling."

Koszman also encourages those who are enthusiastic about their communities to consider joining the organization.

"If any Elks lodge in any part of the country is doing something for their community, they could always use help," he said. "Building ball diamonds, for example, there's labour involved, there's also things like working a barbeque, working a BINGO, whatever is necessary. If there's a ball club in the community that's trying to raise funds for themselves, we'll be there to help and hopefully, they'll help back. We have to work together in our modern society to get things done."

Koszman explained, that local Elks lodges also help local families in need through food drives, support medical treatments for children, etc. "Whatever is necessary. We step in where we're needed. All we have to do is find out that someone needs help and we're going to be there to help them. 

Charlie the Elk and the Altona Lodge #447 members that were present, presenting a cheque for $10000 to Guy Mullen, altona library fundraising committee and Branch administrator, Rachael Friesen.The Manitoba Elks Foundation presented a cheque for $5000 dollars to Jordan Siemens and Guy Mullen from the Altona Library Fundraising Committee and the presenters were: chairman Henry Penner, secretary Rebecca Wiens and Charlie the Elk.