Sistersville Elks Lodge 333 — Charitable Activities
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Don Stokes, Secretary of Sistersville Elks Lodge, to ask him what the Elks Lodge was all about. Many people think of the Elks as a bar, an exclusive club or a place for parties and receptions. They are so much more and the following is a story about what the Elks do and why they do it.
To understand what role the Elks Lodge plays in our communities, we need to look at their mission.
All Elks value the belief that charity is the greatest of all virtues, and by sharing and giving they possess the power to replace pain and sorrow with hope and confidence.
Today’s Elks fulfill this pledge to build stronger communities by never forgetting veterans, providing for tomorrow’s leaders and funding projects in neighborhoods and communities that promote good health.
I don’t think the residents of Tyler and Wetzel Counties are aware of the substantial amount of money and volunteer work the Elks provide to many organizations. They are truly doing their part to help make our communities and the people’s lives that live here better.
Since being charted in July of 1896, over the last 124 years through March 31, 2020 the Sistersville Elks Lodge No. 333 has contributed over $4.6 Million to the communities in our local area. This is an average of over $38,000 annually. Supported programs include scholarships, youth athletic programs, various youth activities and other community based projects.
Let’s take a walk back in the Sistersville Elks Lodge’s history. In the 1930’s and 40’s, the Elks purchased x-ray equipment for the local hospital and along with the Emblem Club #84 maintained two rooms at the hospital for many years. In the late 1940’s and 50’s the Elks owned and operated the Park/Playground and Wading Pool where the city park is now located.
During this same time frame the Elks donated the land where the park now stands to the City of Sistersville at no charge. The Elks donated the first $10,000 for the construction of the City Pool. While in construction phase of the pool, money became tight and the Elks gave an additional $15,000 to finish the project.
Over the last 6 years, the Elks have donated over $12,000, split evenly, to the local Libraries (Sistersville, Middlebourne, and Paden City) and helped to finance their Summer Reading Programs. This past spring, the local Lodge donated $2,000 to six local church food banks to assist them in feeding the needy in the area during the current COVID-19 pandemic and over $5,500 to Tyler County Family Resources for the purchase and distribution of hygiene products to nearly 1300 students in Tyler County Schools.
During the last 50 years the Elks has consistently provided the after game meals for local teams, visiting teams, bands, cheerleaders, and officials at Sistersville High School and continued that tradition when the two county schools consolidated in 1993. Meals are now provided at Tyler County High School. The estimated combined cost for this program has exceeded $35,000.
Other supported programs over the years include $10,000 to the Sistersville Park and Pool Commission to provide a minimum of one week per summer, free swimming, free hot dogs, chips, soft drinks, and water to all in attendance.
Since 1980, the Elks Lodge has provided at no cost the facilities for the Senior Center. A conservative estimate of these costs is $6,000 per year, and during the last 20 years, the Elks have provided over $35,000 in funds to the L.A. Johnson VA Medical Center and the WV Veterans Nursing Facility in Clarksburg, WV.
Sistersville Elks Lodge No. 333 has awarded over $50,000 in scholarships to local students during the past 10 years, and each year they provide a Christmas Party for the county elementary students at a cost of $1,600 per year. Each school gets a much loved visit from Santa Claus plus a treat bag for each student and staff member. This program has been in existence since the 1940’s when the old Paramount Theater was rented, cartoons were played and treats were provided for the all the kids.
There are many contributions made each year to various organizations to assist programs. A few of these are: Mountaineer Food Bank, Salvation Army, Make-A-Wish Foundation, WV Children’s Medicine, Boys and Girl Scouts, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Legion (Coats for Kids), Tyler County Sheriff’s Drug & Safety Program, Shop-with-a-Cop Program, Valley High School TSA, Tyler Consolidated TSA, Knight’s Band Boosters, Valley High Band Boosters and many other organizations.
As a National Organization the Elks, which is comprised of over 1,850 Elks Lodges throughout the country, have contributed over $71,005,967.00 in cash and $310,188,305.00 in non-cash contributions from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. During this same time period the West Virginia Elks Lodges, of which there are nineteen, contributed $1,746,632.00 to charitable activities.
As you can easily see the Sistersville Elks Lodge No.333 is so much more than a building to hold dances and receptions in our community. It’s a place where neighbors can come together, meals can be shared and children can grow up supported in a healthy environment. The Sistersville Elks has been and continues to be a responsible and valuable entity in the area and pledges to fulfill their mission to assist youth, veterans, and community. The newest addition to the club is the outdoor patio constructed by Elk member volunteers. If you would like to be a part of this awesome organization, you can contact the Elks Lodge at 304-652-4531.