The Soldotna Elks Lodge #2706 has purchased around $22,500 worth of clothes and toys for donating to children in need this holiday season.
Lodge Secretary Shannon Woodford said the fundraiser — which they call Kids Christmas — has been an annual tradition for five years. Money is collected through a variety of lodge programming, including raffles, donations, games and more.
“We collect through the year to be able to get our budget amount,” Woodford said.
This year, the goal was $13,000. Woodford explained that last year the lodge raised $10,000, but they wanted to push the numbers up because they observed ongoing issues with COVID-19 and inflation.
“We decided to increase that to help a little bit more.”
Through community engagement and “generous” donations from Hilcorp, they passed the goal and wound up spending $13,354.01 on toys and clothes on Black Friday. She said that they took advantage of sales and deals at Fred Meyers to save more than $9,000 on a $22,467.67 total.
“We end up with probably six to eight grocery carts,” Woodford said. “They actually gave us our own designated cashier and helped us with all the purchasing and taking off the security tags.”
She said the effort was something like an assembly line as members of the lodge would run things along, scanning, tagging and bagging.
The toys and clothes are on display for members at the lodge to see this week. On Friday, they were visible spilling out from a corner of the main lodge space around a Christmas tree. Racks of clothing, a table of coloring books, crayons and other toys, bikes, hats, and more. Woodford said they have a day set with the Salvation Army to deliver — the organization will then handle distribution.
Robert Dixon, the lodge’s exalted ruler, said charity work was important to the Elks.
“We know that there’s a lot of families in need, and not everybody has everything they need,” Woodford said. “If we can provide anything for the kids and the families through this that’s great. Everyone works hard to help out with this and being able to know that there’s going to be some kids getting some Christmas presents.”
More information about the Soldotna Elks Lodge #2706 can be found on their Facebook page.