Watertown Elks Lodge #838 Receives Freedom Grant For LATI Veteran Student Food Pantry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 October 3, 2018                    

WATERTOWN, SD   In the continued spirit of charitable work in the community the Watertown Elks Lodge #838 recently donated $2000 to the Lake Area Tech Veterans’ Food Pantry through a National Elks Foundation Freedom Grant.

The Elks Freedom Grant offers a unique opportunity to harness the Elks’ passion for serving veterans and military members and turn it into projects that offer tangible results.  The Watertown Elks Lodge submitted the charitable request to provide funds to develop a Veterans’ Food Pantry at Lake Area Tech.  Leaders of the local Elks group reached out when they heard there was a need for food for the pantry but wanted to focus on the students who are veterans. Local Elks member, John Stonebarger said, “Our local chapter helped Lake Area Tech this past year by providing food for their Student Food Pantry but really wanted to do something more for the veterans who attend college there. We reached out to see if there was a nutritional need for this group and found that there are a significant number of vets enrolled at Lake Area Tech and the need was there.”

Lake Area Tech has had a long history of being a friend to veterans. The school has been designated a Military Friendly School for many years and most recently earned the honorable Silver Level for their dedication to this group of individuals and their families.  LuAnn Strait, Director of Student Services said, “Awhile back, we determined there was an obvious need for a Student Food Pantry on campus and put the wheels in motion. But when the Watertown Elks asked us about providing specifically for our veteran students, we thought it was a wonderful idea!”  Lake Area Tech serves approximately 115 veterans throughout the year. Strait continues, “These students have done so much for us.  The transition back to civilian life can be daunting for some of them.  In a small way, this allows us to give back and show them we (and this community) care.  We are incredibly grateful for the Elks and their heartfelt donation.”

With the dollars provided through the Elks Freedom Grant, the Veteran Student Food Pantry became a reality. The Pantry is located in the Lake Area Tech Veterans Service Office and is stocked with non-perishable food items that have been donated by the Elks.  In the spirit of giving, the Elks are also providing students vouchers for a warm meal at the Watertown Elks Lodge.  Students are told of the resource through word-of-mouth, posters, emails, texts, and social media.

The Elks National Veterans Service Commission has awarded Freedom Grants to approximately 300 Lodges that applied for charitable projects for veterans.  The Freedom Grant is to be used to serve the needs of veterans and/or active-duty military members in the focused areas of employment, homelessness and housing, military families, health and educational support.

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Attached Photo:  Local Elks Members (l-r): Greg Wellhouse, Mark Schroeder; Lake Area Tech Developmental Education instructor,  Tina Cloutier;  Elks member, John Stonebarger; County Fair Groceries employee, Jordan Eppard; and Elks member Lonnie Greenfield.