The Superior Elks Lodge 403 is hosting a free soup feast and winter gear giveaway from 1-6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at 1503 Belknap St.
Visitors can tuck into a bowl of vegetable beef barley or chicken noodle soup, along with rolls and dessert. An array of winter coats, boots, mittens, hats and more will be available to anyone who needs them.
The Elks pour $10,000 to $15,000 annually into Superior in the form of checks to nonprofits and donation drives, according to Exalted Ruler Kevin Keener. The funds come from targeted grants and member initiatives. Last year in the midst of the pandemic, lodge members provided financial support to the Ruth House, Solid Rock Mission, the Faith United Methodist Church food pantry and more. Saturday’s event marks a move to hands-on giving.
"That's the biggest thing for myself and the Elks we have now is instead of writing checks, get out and talk to your neighbors, talk to your families," Keener said.
“Let’s take the advantage to get people in the door and actually spend time with people, you know,” said his wife Sara, the lodge’s grant coordinator. “They can see what the Elks is about.”
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The fraternal organization is more than a social club or a site to host a wedding reception.
“Our number one goal is giving back to the community, because if there’s no community, there’s no Elks,” Keener said.
This fall alone, the Elks purchased $2,000 worth of socks for the Socktoberfest sock drive and funded the Spooktacular drive-in movie, “The Adamms Family.”
Sara Keener recently wrote a $3,500 grant for the winter gear giveaway. It has the potential to positively impact people struggling with homelessness and families in need of warm outerwear for their children, regardless of the turnout.
"In the end, even if we don't have a lot of attendance, we're just going to turn around and take all that gear and donate it to the entities who can get it out to the hands of the people who need it," she said.
The couple spent Tuesday, Nov. 30, shopping for new items to give away. Outerwear left over from the annual Kids for Coats drive will also be available at the event. Only about half of the coats collected this year have been given away.
“Any people that missed the coat distribution that was held Nov. 18 and 19 at the Salvation army, if you missed that, you can go to the Elks on Saturday and still be able to get a coat,” said Captain Jasen Elcombe with the Superior Salvation Army.
He appreciated the Elks offering people another opportunity to stay warm.
“Even after the Elks' drive is done, we’re going to be bringing the coats to our thrift store,” Elcombe said. “So anyone that ever needs a free coat can just go to our thrift store, let them know ‘Hey, I’m in need of a winter coat. I heard I can get a free coat here.'”
The store at 1705 Belknap St. should have coats available by Monday, Dec. 6.
The Keeners said Saturday’s event is a chance to help the community, raise awareness of the Elks and potentially attract new members.
“If anyone’s interested in joining, contact the Elks in Superior. That’s the biggest way we can impact our community is having the community join also,” Sara Keener said, whether they choose to help with a single event or get involved in many.
The couple is also spreading the word that they are seeking additional nonprofits and initiatives to support. Call it a chance to network.
“We don’t think that a lot of entities know, like, hey, come to us. We’ve got money. Tell us what you need and we can help you,” Sara Keener said.
For more information about how to become a member of Superior Elks Lodge 403, email firstname.lastname@example.org.