The Marshall Elks Lodge No. 683 hosted their 2019 Back to School Bash on Saturday, July 27.
Over 200 children from across Harrison County received basic school supplies, backpacks and lunch at no cost to the family.
The Marshall Elks secured a Community Investment Grant through the Elks National Foundation to sponsor the school supply giveaway for the fifth year straight.
“This is one of my favorite events of the year,” Elk Renea Oswalt said. “Being able to see the smiles on the kids’ faces and knowing that we have made a positive difference in the lives of these families is a wonderful feeling.”
Harrison County youth organizations and business partners once again contributed greatly to the success of the event this year. Approximately 75 members and volunteers worked together to make this event successful.
“We couldn’t pull this off without support from our members, volunteers and youth organizations from the local area,” Oswalt said. “With everyone working together, we are able to offer many fun, family-friendly activities during the bash and we know the parents appreciate the school supplies that are given to the kids.”
Local kid-friendly organizations and businesses were offered space to promote their programs, give program information or give away items and host a game or activity for the kids.
A new community partner for the event was Genesis Primecare, who came on board as a title sponsor and brought “Freddie the Frog” along to entertain the children.
Others who supported the Back to School Bash this year include: Patterson Dodge, LATEX, Autism Moms of East Texas, Texas Health & Human Services/WIC, Community Health Core, Boys & Girls Club Of the Big Pines, Foster Orthodontics, One Church of Marshall, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas/Blue Bear, Waskom 4-H Club and Marshall Elks Hoop Shoot Team.
The Back to School Bash is one of several community programs offered by the Marshall Elks Lodge.
In past years, Marshall Elks have sponsored many other youth programs through partnerships with local organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Pines, Harrison County/Harleton Shooting Sports, Panola Archery and Waskom 4-H Club Archery and DIY Camps and the KMHT Kindergarten Backpack Program, to name a few.
Marshall Elks Lodge also raises money each year to help fund a summer camp and grant program for kids with special needs.
In addition, Marshall Elks partner with eight local high schools to recognize exceptional students who are selected to be student of the month for their school. At the end of the school year, each school selects a student of the year who is eligible to receive a scholarship for college.
Hoop Shoot is another program sponsored by the Elks. It is a basketball free-throw competition for kids ages 8-13 that teaches kids the importance of practicing, being active, good sportsmanship and more.
Kids who win the local shoot are eligible to participate in district and they can advance to state and national competitions.
Marshall Elks also sponsor programs for veterans and first responders. Every third Saturday, a free breakfast is provided to veterans and first responders and their spouses for no charge.
Supplies are donated to the Lancer Legacy Ranch, a newly-opened facility that helps veterans who have lost their way after serving in a war and Elk members give cards, baked goods and gifts to veterans in local nursing homes and hospitals during the holiday season.
“We are very proud of all the great things Elks do in Marshall, across the state of Texas and at the National level as well, Oswalt said. “Being a member of the Elks means you are ‘one’, in a group of people who choose to make a difference in the lives of others.”
For more information about Elks programs or upcoming events and activities, check out the Marshall Elks Lodge Facebook page. Those interested in volunteering or joining the organization can reach out to any local Elk member, log into www.texaselks.org or www.elks.org websites, or contact Oswalt at 903-407-0640.