The spirit of giving is contagious throughout Cuyahoga Falls during the holiday season. On Wednesday, December 16, members of the Elks Lodge #1923 surprised Allison Bogdan, Cuyahoga Falls High School (CFHS) principal, with a generous donation of twelve free-standing hand sanitizing stations, refills and a variety of support materials, valued at about $1,800.
The donation was inspired by an email sent by Sarah Whitford, Elks president, at the beginning of 2020 to Bogdan.
“We wanted to do something to give back to CFHS,” explained Whitford. “So, we emailed Principal Bodgan for some ideas. She shared our email with her staff, who in turn shared it with their students.”
Many wonderful ideas were submitted. However, CFHS junior Sophia Rehs’ suggestion was both needed and timely. “Sophia wanted to get more sanitizer stations into their school,” said Whitford. “Her suggestion was sent in May, before things really came off the rails. It just shows how forward-thinking Sophia is, as her suggestion made so much sense.”
Sales representatives at GOJO Industries advised the Elks to consider free-standing units, as they could be moved to high-traffic areas throughout the school when needed.
With a need established, Whitford submitted a grant request to the Elks national chapter, who distributes a percentage of Elks funds collected through membership fees as Beacon Grants towards worthy community causes. “I explained exactly how this would help the school, that it was submitted by a student, and why the request was timely,” said Whitford. “And I’m happy to say it was approved.”
“Principal Bogdan has been patient, and kind, and just amazing to work with,” beamed Whitford. “We had some challenges to get the items we wanted, due to the high demand of these products nationally because of COVID-19. But, the communication with Principal Bogdan was frankly outstanding. I honestly don’t know how she does it all. I am just so impressed by her.”
“Also, this project would not have been possible without the outstanding efforts of Eric Jensen, Mike Hickey, Rusty Best of JR Lawn & Maintenance, Greg Arndt, Dru Fiala and Sarah Behal.”
“Partnering with the Elks and especially Ms. Whitford has been an inspiring experience,” said Bogdan. “It is not often that people reach out to the high school asking what we need and to know that the Elks simply wanted to help in any way possible warmed my heart. I love that they took the suggestion of one of our leaders, Sophia Rehs, and made it a reality.”
“As Ms. Whitford was leaving, she asked if I would be interested in partnering with her again for future grants,” added Bogdan. “The time they spent and the generosity they demonstrated is what Black Tiger Family is all about and I am beyond excited to partner with them in future endeavors.”
Giving back to the community is an ongoing mission for the Elks. “We are currently doing a fundraiser for Schnee School for their greenhouse, which is in need of repairs,” explained Whitford. “We are working with Jessica Wallis, who is a leader of this project and can be reached at email@example.com . “We are raising funds for Lowe's and Home Depot gift cards, as well as doing a drive to help replace gardening supplies and tools off their wish list.”
The Elks is currently accepting new members. “We are looking to grow,” said Whitford. A portion of membership dues goes back into the community. “Once a member, your dues do go back towards our Grand Lodge and locally,” said Whitford. “Plus, it allows you to visit our Lodge and any Lodge in the United States.”
The Elks Lodge #1923, which serves Akron, Barberton and Cuyahoga Falls, is located at 2555 State Road, in Cuyahoga Falls. For more information, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org .