JACKSON – Members of the Jackson Elks Lodge recently assisted homeless veterans as part of a project for Operation Chillout.
Earlier this fall, members loaded up 30 backpacks with toiletries, blankets, sweatshirts, and jackets and gave them to the veterans assisted by Operation Chillout.
“Operation Chillout is an organization that helps homeless veterans get back on their feet,” Jackson Elks representative Joe LaMonica said.
The all-volunteer outreach is dedicated to ending the crisis of homelessness for veterans, men and women throughout New Jersey and parts of northeast Pennsylvania. According to its literature, its work involves promoting awareness of the multi-faceted nature of poverty and homelessness, advocating for sustainable solutions and programs serving the needs of the poor, addicted, abused and homeless to improve the quality of their lives leading to permanent change and independent living.
The not for profit organization, founded on Dec. 21, 2000, also organizes for peace and economic justice to address systemic inequities challenging impoverished communities.
The organization’s website states that “We believe in the inherent worth of every homeless man, woman and child and provide emergency supplies and survival gear to the most vulnerable members of our communities wherever we encounter them. We bring our care to all homeless people without regard to their religious affiliation, ethnic heritage or state of life.” The website can be found at operationchillout.org.
“We were very happy to become part of this effort as our Elks Lodge, among all Elks lodges in the state and around the country, are involved in helping our veterans in a variety of ways,” LaMonica said.
Members of the Jackson Elks Motorcycle Committee braved chilly weather on Nov. 12 to present a wreath at the Elks Veterans Memorial at the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Military Cemetery to honor U.S. service men and women who laid down their lives defending freedom.
George Struble, the lodge’s Veterans Committee Chairman, said he was very pleased with what his fellow Elks have been doing. Struble is active in veterans affairs in the state.
The Jackson Elks were at the New Jersey State Elks Fall Conference in Long Branch on Nov. 11 where they presented at $20,000 check raised to help homeless veterans.
The next day a group of Jackson Elks took part in a motorcycle run to the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Memorial Cemetery in Wrightstown. Members laid a wreath at the Elks Veterans Memorial at the cemetery.
“We, as Elks, feel it is an honor to ride through the cold to show our appreciation and our respect to these brave souls. As it says on the Elks memorial headstone, “As long as there are Veterans the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks Will Never Forget Them,’ ” LaMonica said.