Elks share, Elks care.
Those words, which are affixed to a national logo, surfaced in many forms last Thursday at the picturesque Masonic Youth Center off 116 Long St. in the Buttonwoods section of Warwick.
First and foremost, the Rhode Island State Elks Association hosted upwards of 450 people at its annual Special Needs Outing, a day of fun and food for the state’s special needs population.
“One of our missions in the community has always been to provide opportunities for those with special needs to participate in a variety of stimulating and rewarding activities,” said Ann Marie Greaves, the chaplain at Tri-City Elks Lodge No. 14 in Warwick and a committee member. “Each year we host a special needs event with food and entertainment.”
And that’s where “Elks share, Elks care” first surfaced last Thursday.
As Greaves explained, there are 10 Elks lodges that make up the state association. Those local lodges are located from Woonsocket to Westerly and raise money throughout the year through various in-house events to roll out the red carpet for the Special Needs Outing.
“Today was a lot of fun,” Greaves said. “It was also rewarding to see so many smiling faces enjoying the good food, games, clowns and music.”
That’s yet another area where the Elks’ slogan came into play last Thursday.
Many members of the 10 Elks lodges are also members of the Rhode Island Shriners, who last Thursday donned their famous clown costumes and faces and provided fun for each and every person that took in the gathering.
“The Shriners danced with the people and even made those ever-popular balloon animals,” Greaves said. “They helped play all the games we had, they helped serve the lunch ... as usual, the Shriners did it all.”
And the lunch, Lodge 14 treasurer Lori Eaton noted, “was again made special for our state’s special needs population.”
“Elks share, Elks care” surfaced during the lunch, which was cooked and served by volunteers from all corners of the state and included grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, potato salad, chips and soda.
The day also included music courtesy of popular disc jockey “Mr. Remember When,” a.k.a. Warwick resident Joe Martini.
Martini, in fact, was a shining example of the Elks’ slogan.
Although he was compensated for his annual appearance, Martini used much of the money to purchase a myriad of prizes that went to individuals and agencies for special needs individuals. Accompanied by his granddaughters Gabrielle and Rebecca Martini, he gave away such items as an electric guitar and amplifier, acoustic guitar, two professional sets of earphones and a complete stereo system.
The largest and perhaps most impressive item Martini raffled off was a complete set of drums, replete with cymbals and a seat.
“All of these bigger prizes go to group homes,” Martini said, and he will deliver them at his own expense.
And that’s what each and every Elk does – using his or her own dime to help others.
“Years ago we held the outing at Rocky Point,” Greaves said. “That was obviously thrilling for our guests – getting to go on the rides, etc. And who knows, maybe we’ll be back there some day in one form or another.”
Regardless of where the Special Needs Outing is held, the theme will always be “Elks care, Elks share.”
And that also holds true when it comes to the nation’s veterans, no matter where the local lodge is located.