Elks grant helps Alpha Center

SIDNEY — Sidney Elks Lodge No. 786 Secretary Christi Thomas has announced receipt of a Beacon Grant from the Elks National Foundation to donate food and supplies to the Alpha Community Center.

The grant is part of the Elks’ Community Investments Program, developed by the foundation to help lodges show their communities all the great things Elks do.

Thomas said the lodge wanted to donate funds to an organization it had not supported in the past.

The Community Center was founded in 1984 when the Rev. Bill Hines of the Sidney First United Methodist Church charged his congregation with taking Jesus outside the walls of the church. Starting with the kids living in neighborhoods close to the church, it soon grew to dealing with the families. Moving the activities from the church to a location right beside the Spot, the Breakfast Group began.

The Alpha Community Center has been serving the basic needs of at risk families, children, seniors, homeless and mentally ill through the Alpha Meals program, emergency pantry, children’s programming, adult education and emergency assistance for rent and utilities. The Alpha Center is a United Way agency and a tax-deductable charity.

During the last four years, in partnership with the Holy Angels Soup Kitchen, around 34,000 meals have been served. More than 600 households and families accessed the emergency pantry in 2018 for nonperishable food items, diapers, personal care items, blankets, hats, gloves, school supplies and other items. The Summer Program was attended by 25 kids who played games, received nutrition education from an OSU Extension agent, participated in FitKids exercise program and went to Camp Union, a Christian camp for kids.

An adult education curriculum, Getting Ahead, is designed to help participants evaluate their current positions, receive information to help improve their current living situations and find out how to avoid the pitfalls society throws at them. They learn job-hunting skills, how to budget, resume writing, appropriate language and wardrobe. The center has hosted had four, 10-week sessions and a total of 21 students have graduated.

Thomas said Sidney Lodge members were humbled to be able to donate the $2,000 grant to this agency and plan to apply again in 2019 for the same grant.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is a fraternal organization focused on serving local communities. It has programs that support veterans, help youth and meet needs specific to Sidney. In 2012, a Beacon Grant was used to help purchase supplies for Compassionate Care of Shelby County; in 2014 a Beacon Grant was used to purchase smoke detectors for Sidney Fire and Rescue and in 2016 the grant was used to again purchase smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

Starting with a $100,000 grant in 1928, the Elks National Foundation has grown to an endowment worth more than $654 million to help build stronger Elks communities.