Elks Offer Wildfire Relief
“It’s nasty here, to put it mildly,” says Emma Pletz, the Secretary of the Oregon State Elks Association. “The smoke is awful. It looks dark at noon. We have about a quarter mile visibility all around us.”
Pletz’s Lodge, Milwaukie-Portland No. 142, has mobilized to help people affected by the fires. As of press time, thousands of Oregonians had evacuated or were preparing to do so. The Lodge opened its parking lot and property for evacuees to park their RVs or set up campsites.
The Lodge rooms filled up quickly with donated necessities—clothing, diapers, food and produce, and bedding and toys for children.
“People have had to flee their homes, some with only minutes notice,” Pletz says. “Some got out with only the clothes on their backs.”
The Ashland area, in southern Oregon, has been hit hard by the fires, too. Ashland Lodge No. 944 has become a hub for meals and donations. The Lodge opened its doors to the public so evacuees can find respite from the smoke, a warm meal, and any necessities they need, from toiletries to toys.
“I just need for people to come in and know that they are welcome to take these things,” says Colleen Hanson, an Ashland Lodge member who is coordinating the Lodge’s disaster relief efforts.
Calpine, Calif., Lodge No. 2432 donated their Beacon Grant to the Plumas Crisis Intervention and Resource Center instead of hosting its annual Christmas party.
“Besides COVID, the communities of Plumas County have been impacted by wildfires that are currently causing evacuations of small communities,” says Ellen Vieira, Calpine’s grants coordinator.
One month ago, one of PCIRC’s largest resource centers burned down. The organization lost its emergency baby supplies. The Calpine Lodge’s donation will help replace those supplies and assist with emergency shelter for evacuees in motels.
“The fires are impacting local residents like never before,” Vieira says. “This is the worst fire season in our history and funds to assist the local residents are greatly needed.”
Lodges on the West Coast have proven that no matter the circumstance, the Elks will always step up and support their communities.