JACKSON – Several hundred people came out recently for a motorcycle ride and some great food to benefit a noble cause at the township Elks Lodge.
The Jackson Elks Lodge 2744, based at 1059 E. Veterans Highway, was filled with motorcyclists and Elk members from throughout the state for the 7th Annual Jim Hall Memorial Benefit for Homeless Veterans.
The event included a motorcycle ride and a picnic filled with food, beverages and musical entertainment provided once again by the Mango Band and Matt and Eryn O’Ree.
Attendees enjoyed nicer weather than last year’s picnic. The event kicked off with a ceremony at the Brigadier Gen. William C. Doyle Military Cemetery in North Hanover Township, Burlington County.
Lori Struble, who serves as the secretary for the event, the Lodge secretary and a past President of the Jackson Lodge, was delighted with the turnout.
“We had the NJ Elks Past State President Bob Jani spoke at the cemetery and one of the committee members, Mike Paris, played taps,” Lori Struble said.
Event Chairman George Struble who is a trustee of the lodge, the current president of the lodge’s motorcycle club and heads the State Elks Lodge veterans committee, thanked the many lodges who presented donations and also provided food for the picnic.
Reviewing the history of the event George Struble said that it was named after Jackson Elks member Jim (Huntz) Hall who died a few years ago.
Hall “was a friend and wanted to put together something with our motorcycle club members to raise money for homeless veterans.” Sadly, Hall died of complications from his diabetes.
“We raised $5,000 our first year and later $7,000 and two years ago we came in with about $25,000. We do what we can,” George Struble said.
The event also included the sale of T-shirts, patches and from advertising space in an event booklet. The proceeds of which went toward the cause of aiding homeless veterans.
Lori Struble said that last year’s benefit raised $25,141 for the homeless veterans in New Jersey. “With today’s sunny weather we should be able to beat that number this year,” Lori Struble said.
She added that “we also receive assistance with food, gift basket items, raffle ticket sales, and donations for the charity from most of the lodges in the state.”
“Our biggest supporter is the Brick Elks Lodge. They donated over $8,000 last year. Our planning committee is about 75 percent Jackson Elks and then a mix of Toms River and Brick lodges but on the day of the event we have helpers from all over the state that assist us with whatever is needed,” Lori Struble said.
The Strubles said they were very happy that the Mangos returned to provide the entertainment along with the special guest appearances by Matt O’Ree and Eryn O’Ree, two up and coming NJ musicians.
The couple wasn’t sure how many motorcycles attended the event. “We are trying to present this event as not just for motorcyclists but for everyone who would like to spend a nice day listening to some good music and eating some good food while supporting a very worthy cause,” Lori Struble said.
To that end Lori Struble said that “we added a family friendly corner this year that included a bounce house and games for children.”
George Struble said that each Elks Lodges across the country host special veterans support events throughout the year.
There are 115 Elks lodges in the Garden State. One major event is the Miracle Run which is held each summer in Pompton Lakes. The Miracle Run supports the Lodges’ joint fundraiser of sending handicapped children to Camp Moore. “That is our biggest fundraiser of the year and we do it all together,” George Struble said.