Elks Have Been Serving Rim Country Since 1960

Mission of the Elks is to support community's youth and its veterans

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The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has been serving the Rim Country since 1960.

The group, simply known as the Payson Elks, was chartered on July 6, 1960. It had a whopping 183 charter members -- which in those days represented a substantial percentage of the male population in the small mountain community.

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Dwayne Cunningham slices up another turkey in preparation for the annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the Payson Elks Lodge.

The Payson Elks, along with the Lions Club, is the fifth oldest community service organization in the

Rim Country. The Lions Club and the Elks both had their start in 1960.

Of those 183 men who were charter members, eight remain active in the Payson Lodge. They started meeting on Main Street, but in 1969 there was a fire, so the property at 1206 North Beeline Highway was purchased and work began on the current facility.

Now more than 400 people belong to the Payson Elks Lodge.

The Elks' primary focus for its fund-raising efforts are the youth of the Rim Country and its veterans.

The two largest events held for the youth are the Children's Shopping Spree and the Kids' Christmas Party.

The 2007 shopping spree had 47 children come to the Lodge for doughnuts, milk and juice before heading to Wal-Mart.

More than $7,000 was spent on clothes for the youngsters. Later, another 80 children joined the group for the Christmas party. Each child was given a bag containing a coloring book, Crayons, cookies and candy. Santa came to the party as well, giving each child a nice gift purchased by members of the Lodge.

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Madison Park looks up at her mom, Theresa, as she delights in the Doodle Pro she received after talking with Santa during the Christmas festivities at the Payson Elks Lodge.

On Flag Day the Payson Elks Lodge annually presents a patriotic tribute to the American Flag.

As a patriotic organization, the Elks celebrate Flag Day because "the destiny of our country is forever joined beneath the folds of the Stars and Stripes."

Youth are particularly encouraged to attend the ceremony, which has become a Payson tradition.

One mission of the Elks is to ensure that the American flag is not taken for granted by anyone, and they hope their Flag Day ceremonies serve to pass the traditions and values the flag represent from generation to generation.

"Our flag has a proud and glorious history. It represents our independence and unity as a nation -- under God, indivisible. It was at the lead of every battle fought by Americans and many people have died protecting it. It even stands proudly on the surface of the moon," reads the Elks' literature.

Other activities for young people include the Hoop Shoot, Soccer Kick, Drug Awareness and Special Olympics.

The annual free Thanksgiving Day Dinner is an event for everyone in Payson and the surrounding area. Last year more than 100 meals were delivered to shut-ins and a sit-down dinner was served at the Lodge to approximately 400 area residents, plus all the volunteers who make the event possible. Food was also delivered to Payson area veterans immediately after the dinner.

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Megan Miller looks on as her son Tyler talks with Santa about what he'd like for Christmas this year.

Veterans receive donations of clothing, games and many other items donated by members of the Elks. The chairman of the Elks' veterans services committee is very active in all facets of veterans' activities, including the area's Color Guard.

The Lodge supports Payson Supply Line with donations for active duty troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Anyone wishing more information, or interested in becoming a member of Payson Elks Lodge #2154 should call the Lodge secretary Ev Griffin at (928) 474-2572.

Joining the Elks

Anyone wishing more information, or interested in becoming a member of Payson Elks Lodge #2154 should call the Lodge secretary Ev Griffin at (928) 474-2572.

Officer: Exalted Ruler Victor Mozart

Elks meeting schedule: The Elks and HOPES meet at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of the month; Elks and Ladies Night is at 6 p.m. the second Thursday of the month; the second regular Elks meeting is at 7 p.m., the third Thursday of the month, as is the HOPES Night Out

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