December 24, 2016
Mission Viejo, Saddleback Valley Elks Lodge sponsors four Veteran families for Christmas
In conjunction with Working Wardrobes/VetNet, the Mission Viejo Elks Lodge sponsored 4 Veteran families this past Christmas. Each of the families are part of the VetNet program for job training and placement and each were identified based on family need. The elks are proud to be of service to these families. During the initial contact with each of the families, Lodge members learned that the Durazo family just had their electricity cut off that day. With the assistance of the Charity Committee, the Elks were able to have the electricity turned back on the same day – which was a huge relief to this family with three small children who had formula in the refrigerator.
The Elks started out the Christmas season of giving by purchasing reusable trees and decorations for each of the families, and Derek Randles Past Lodge President delivered them to each family assuring there was plenty of time to get them decorated before the big day. The Mirzaeian family only wanted Laker’s tickets for Christmas – they listed nothing else. With these tickets being outside the Lodge's normal budget, Elks National Foundation Chairman Randles reached out to Lodge Members – and a very giving member donated 5 Lakers tickets for the entire family. Talk about a family in awe! The Crespa family had a new baby girl just the week before Christmas and they were delighted to receive the Moses Bassinet filled with baby basics and baby clothes put together by Elk Stephanie Bongartz – Adolfo said “What amazing timing you all have.” Each of the families was invited to Christmas Dinner at the Lodge to spend Christmas Eve with Lodge members. The Mirzaeian, Crespa, and Nguyen families all the kids in tow accepted the invitation, and Elk members made certain each family member went through the food line multiple times, and of course at no charge to them.
Through a $2000 Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant, The local Elks were able to purchase clothes, gift cards, gas cards, and small gift items for all of the family members. House Committee Chairperson Stephanie Bongartz sourced all of the gift items and assured everything was wrapped in time to be presented to each family at Christmas Dinner. Chairman Randles said, "Thank you to the Lodge Veteran’s Committee for the donation towards these families. I must thank all who were so gracious in giving this year, to those who worked the kitchen to assure our families had a Christmas Dinner, to those who donated gift cards or other items. Thank you also to our Charity Committee that continues to change lives, one at a time. All of you make a difference – you really do. Elks Care, Elks Share!"
Article and Pictures by Derek Randles, PER, ENF Chairman