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About Keizertimes. (Salem, Or.) 1979-current | View Entire Issue (March 10, 2017)
MARCH 10, 2017, KEIZERTIMES, PAGE A9
Keizer Elks turn fraternal
order into charitable army
By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Over the years, fraternal organizations like the
Benevolent Order of the Elks have been pinned
with the reputation as places where people go to
drink and party. The Keizer Elks’ 2,250 members
are determined to change that.
“I think $59,000 given to local charities in
the last 10 months says we are about a lot more
than drinking,” said Dave Salisbury, the current
exalted ruler of the lodge.
At a time when many such organizations
struggle with membership, the Keizer Elks are
growing – and not in small ways. Lodge 2472,
at the corner of Manbrin Drive Northeast and
Cherry Avenue Northeast is the largest Elks
lodge on the West Coast and the 11th largest in
Not only do the Keizer Elks provide lo-
cal non-profi ts with fi nancial donations, as was
the case with two recent $1,000 donations to
the Keizer Community Food Bank and Liberty
House, they put in time and miles that go largely
“We donate to Meals on Wheels, but we are
also the host facility and about 90 percent of the
drivers are Elks members,” said Salisbury.
The Elks’ charitable efforts aren’t limited to
seniors and the disabled either. Elk Diane Nor-
ton is one of many that visit local schools to ad-
minister eye exams.
“One of the technicians from the Elks Chil-
dren’s Eye Clinic in Portland (aka Casey Eye)
comes down and trains us on conducting the
tests and we actually do the testing,” said Norton.
Those who don’t perform testing provide
comfort to students as they progress through the
“We went down to the Head Start Program
at Washington Elementary and my job was just
to escort the students down to testing area and
stay with them. It was a lot more rewarding than
I expected,” said Elk Bruce Plummer.
Other programs include drug abuse awareness
education, a hoop shoot competition that boasts
alums like Oregon State University’s Katie Mc-
Williams, college scholarships, a holiday food box
program that provides for local families, a kids’
Christmas party, funding underfunded sports and
arts programs at McNary High School, a fi re-
fi ghter and police appreciation dinner and much
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Don’t let the gray-haired ofﬁ cers of the Keizer Elks fool you, Lodge 2472 is attracting younger
members, and turning membership into charitable giving.
However, veterans have a special status when
it comes to the Elks’ giving efforts. Seventy-fi ve
of the 200 food boxes prepared for local families
last December went to the families of veterans.
“One of the mottos of the Elks is that as long
as there are Elks, veterans will never be forgot-
ten,” said Salisbury.
That saying is more than just words for Elk
Lee Arehart, a veteran himself. He fought back
emotion when asked what motivated him to
transfer to the Keizer Elks Lodge from another
lodge many moons ago.
“Mainly the veterans program and all the
things this lodge does for vets. Once a month,
we go up to the (Veteran’s Administration) Hos-
pital and bring the patients care packages with
candy and toiletries and stamps. Everything they
might need. For some of them, it’s the only out-
side contact they have,” Lee said.
Lee’s wife Corrine is also an active member
and an offi cer with the Elks.
“I think one of the great things about this
Lodge is there are so many ways to be involved.
If you want to be a member and stay in the
background, that is fi ne. If you want to step up
and be a leader in a project, you can do that,
too,” Corrine said.
Elk Al Ault was a member for eight years be-
fore taking on an offi cer role and it rapidly grew
his enthusiasm for the lodge as a whole.
“This has been the most exciting year as a
member that I could imagine. You make of it
what you want it to be. I just fi nally wanted to
be part of giving back,” Ault said.
The openness with which one can treat an
Elks membership is leading to something of a
renaissance. While many of the offi cers are of the
gray-haired persuasion, a new, younger group of
members is fi nding a home at the Keizer Elks
“We have some young guys who come in and
set-up their (tabletop) games at the card tables,
and they feel comfortable doing that. They told
us that if they went anywhere else they would
be asked to leave after a while. They can come in
here and play for hours without anyone hassling
them,” Salisbury said.
There is a $25 application fee, but dues to
the Elks are just $100 annually. For that price,
members get seven-day-a-week access to the
lodge that comes with a restaurant and bar in-
side, a spacious outdoor area with everything
from horseshoe to barbecue pits, and music ev-
“We’ve made it so that our members want to
be here, and they bring in their friends and our
membership grows,” said Elk Rick Wagner.
They are trying to establish a new reputation
for the organization as a whole, the full bar is
not as problematic as one might think.
“We actually had someone report to the
police that we were the last place they’d had
a drink before getting picked up for a DUII,”
said Elk Jack Madison. “I wasn’t okay with that
and I went down to the (police) station to fi nd
out what else might have been happening. Our
numbers are way below anywhere else in the
area on those last drink reports. We’ve only had
four in about fi ve years,” Madison said.
A number of the current offi cers don’t even
partake of the lodge’s bar offerings.
“We take a lot of pride in what we do and we
are changing what people expect of the Elks,”
said Salisbury. “But it’s because our members
care about this place, we don’t have another lo-
cal establishment like it.”
Native plant sale March 10-11
On Mar. 10, the 15th
Marion Soil and Water Con-
servation District Plant Sale
fundraiser will be held from
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Bauman’s
Farm and Garden, 12989
Howell Prairie Road, Gervais.
At the same location, over-
stock will be sold from 9 a.m.
to 1 p.m. on Mar. 11.
Profi ts from the native plant
sale fund scholarships.
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