Pratt Elks Lodge 1461 was an early Santa Claus and made monetary donations to the Pratt Circles program and the Pratt County Food Bank.

A couple of area organizations are getting an early Christmas present this year and Pratt Elks Lodge 1451 is playing the part of Santa Claus. Pratt Circles and Pratt County Food Bank are the recipients of monetary donations this fall.

First on the list is Pratt Circles, a program that helps people break the cycle of poverty. The Elks Lodge presented a $500 check to Circles. The money will be used for a new computer for the Circles Allies, said Billie Blair, Circles Coordinator.

Right now, Circles records are kept on a computer at the home of one of the Circles staff. The new computer will be located at the Hope Center and make information more available for Circles Allies.

Blair said Circles has recently established a permanent office on Oct. 1 at the Hope Center and this is a first for the organization in Pratt. She is very impressed with the work the Hope Center is doing and glad to have an office and computer available at the center.

Next on the Elks list is Pratt County Food Bank. The food bank was the recipient of a $1,000 check that will be used to purchase food for distribution to the community to families in need, said Diana Harris, president of the Board of Directors.

Right now, the shelves are stocked well, partly because of the contest between Pratt High School and Kingman High School in the "War on 54" to see which school could collect the most non-perishable food. Pratt High School donated 1,145 pounds of food to the food bank from that contest. The food bank also received 389 pounds of food from the Boy Scouts and 210 pounds from the PHS National Honor Society.

These organizations not only collect the food, but they sort and stock the shelves when the food is delivered.

While the shelves are full now, it doesn't take long for the supply to dwindle. For the month of August, the food bank served 83 families that totaled 243 individuals. That's about the same number every month and it's been stable for about a year and a half.

This is the best I've seen the shelves stocked at this time of year," Harris said. "But it doesn't take long for it to go away. If we get a week where 20 families come in, it goes out pretty fast. It's pretty amazing (how fast it disappears.)"

The Food Bank always welcomes non-perishable donations as well as any monetary donations. Donors need to make sure the food is not out of date because it has to be thrown away if it's out of date.

The Elks donation will be used to fill Christmas boxes. In 2016, the food bank prepared 144 Christmas boxes and the Elks provided an additional 31 boxes. The boxes contain everything needed to prepare a complete Christmas dinner.

Food Bank hours are 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to noon on Fridays. Donations to the food bank can be made at those times or can be mailed to the Pratt County Food Bank, 111 West Fourth Street, Pratt, Kans. 67124.

"We appreciate any support," Harris said.

Kasey Voss, Elks Exalter Ruler, said the checks were made possible through an Elks Gratitude Grant from the Elks National Foundation. Pratt Elks gets the grant every year and determines which organization receives the money based on the needs in the community.

Elks is a non-profit organization that makes donations to various organizations in the community. Elks has the No. 1 Youth Drug Awareness program in America, Voss said.

Locally, the Elks have Bingo open to the public every Monday starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Lodge and they have a scholarship program for Elk's member's children and grandchildren.

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