In the fall of 2019, the DeKalb Elks Lodge 765 offered a financial challenge to the DeKalb American Legion Post 66 Honor Guard. The Elks offered a matching grant of $3,500.00 to the DeKalb American Legion to help purchase uniforms for the Legion Honor Guard. It was a matching grant that every dollar the Legion raised the Elks would match up to $3,500.00. DeKalb Legion Vice Commander Manuel ‘Manny’ Olalde chaired the grant program and within 30 days raised over $3,500.00 in donations.
“It was amazing how when the word got out that people were willing to offer some type of donations,” said Olalde. “We had donations of $500.00 to as little as $20.00 including a local family that made a $20.00 donation because they had seen the Honor Guard perform at a friend’s military funeral”. The interesting part of this donation was the family had no ties to the Legion, in fact, none of their family had even served in the military.
“We were both humbled and honored that the Elks made this generous offer”, said Daniel Gallagher, American Legion Commander. “Both the Legion and Elks have a commitment to help support our local veteran community. This grant will help us enhance the visual and professional look of the Honor Guard.”
“Part of the mission of the Elks is to support local veterans with some type of project”, commented Rick Tonozzi, Exalted Ruler for the DeKalb Elks. Over the past several years the Elks have assisted in helping various veteran events. Every year they offer a free meal to veterans on Flag Day. In 2018, the Elks provided a free meal to the US Navy Band who was featured at the ‘Music at the Mansion’ concert series at the Ellwood Mansion.
“The American Legion does an awesome job with their Honor Guard serving the DeKalb area”, said Pete Bakken, a member of the Elks Board. In 2019 the DeKalb American Legion Honor Guard and Color Guard made over 60 appearances at military funerals, parades, military services (Memorial and Veteran Days), and have made many appearances at local schools in support of veteran families in DeKalb County.
This past Tuesday at the monthly Elks Board meeting, members of the American Legion Post #66 presented the DeKalb Elks Lodge with a plaque, thanking them for their generosity in the dollar for dollar matching grant given to the Honor Guard. Post #66 members recognize the Elks Club as another Veteran support organization in the City of DeKalb. Both organizations continue to support their mission of community services to our veterans and active military.