Pratt Elks Lodge 1451, in conjunction with the Pratt County Food Bank, provided food boxes for 60 area families in need.

The Elks Lodge in Pratt resembled a grocery ware- house as food items were sorted and made ready for the area people in need, part of a Christmas in July sharing event on Friday.

With assistance from Dillons, T&W Meats and an Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant, enough food was purchased to fill 120 boxes of food and put together for 60 area families, two food boxes per unit.

More than 30 volunteers at the Elks Lodge on West Fifth Street used an assembly line to fill the boxes with a variety of non-perishable food items ranging from ketchup to cereal to canned vegetables and much more, said Elks member Sandy Foster.

One group moved empty boxes down a row of tables while the other group filled the boxes with their individual items. Then the box group went to a second group of tables and collected a second box full of different food for each family. Each box was labeled group one or two then the process repeated itself.

It took the volunteers about 30 minutes to fill the boxes and have them ready for families to pickup or get delivery on Saturday, July 21 when volunteers returned to hand out boxes or help deliver them to needy families, Foster said.

In addition to the boxed food, each family also received perishable items like eggs, meat, bread and other items when the boxes were picked up or delivered.

Elks Lodge members Linda Steltzer and Brenda Riffey had purchased the food and brought it to the Lodge building where volunteers from Achievement Place helped unload the boxes.

Money to pay for the food came from the Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant. Each Elks Lodge sends money to the foundation and it is used for grants and scholarships, Foster said.

In honor of the Elks 150th anniversary, an additional $1,500 grant was available for community benefit. The Pratt Elks used the anniversary grant money to increase the amount of food for each family.

“We supersized the grant,” Steltzer said.

Any Elks Lodge can apply for a Beacon grant but it has to be used for the good of the community. By using the money in this fashion, each dollar is returned 2.5 times to the community.

The Pratt County Food Bank provided the list of family names to receive the boxes, said Diana Harris, president of the Food Bank Board of Directors.

Each family signed up with the food bank is allowed to receive five boxes of food during the year. This gift of food from the Elks Lodge is additional food for these families, Harris said.

The Pratt County Food Bank is located at 111 West Fourth Street. Open hours are: Monday 7-8 p.m.; Wednesday 9:30-11:30 a.m.; Thursday 7-8 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m. to noon.

The Pratt Elks Lodge has 308 members.

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