Members of the Elks Lodge of LaGrange gave 25 students an early Easter celebration on Thursday.
The Exceptional Education students from Gardner Newman and Long Cane Middle Schools were invited to the lodge for an Easter luncheon and an Easter egg hunt. The lodge members also presented each student with their own Easter basket.
Each year, Elks Lodge members host the students for both a Christmas and an Easter celebration. This is the fourth year that the lodge members have been running these programs. Lodge member Bill Dorsey recalls how it all was started.
“Two of us were sitting in Green Fried Tomatoes having lunch one day and these kids came in with their teachers,” Dorsey said. “Right then, we said that we could do something special for those kids, so we did. Running the Christmas and Easter parties for the kids is a way to give back to the community. I think we get as much out of it as the kids do.”
The members of the Elks Lodge had planned a busy day for the kids. When the students arrived at the lodge, they were treated to a lunch of either hot dogs or chicken. After their lunch, the students all put their coats back on and were given a plastic shopping bag, it was time for the egg hunt. Brightly-colored plastic eggs could be seen scattered all among the lodge’s adjacent field. On the count of three, the kids were allowed to scurry over to the field to pick up the eggs. Some of the students who were in wheel chairs were helped by school staff members, but in the end, everyone seemed to have collected a respectable number of eggs. The kids then returned to the building.
Three of the eggs held special tickets in them and it was an added surprise for the three students who found them. The first, second and third place eggs were found by Long Cane students, Anthony Simpson, Deja Brooks and Timothy Jessup, respectively. The Easter baskets were then given out to each student.
Gardner Newman students Toma Rosencrants and Racheal Faulkner seemed thrilled with their Easter baskets and the events of the day.
“It was very fun, I loved it,” Rosencrants said. “It was actually a good thing because everyone is here and I really appreciate it.”
Victoria Jones was sitting at a table with Christina and Macollough Pike, the girls were busy exploring the contents of their baskets and their eggs.
“This is my first year here,” Jones said. “I got nine eggs when I was outside. I want to wish everyone a happy Easter.”
Christina Butler, a teacher at Gardner Newman Middle School expressed her appreciation for what the members of the Elks Lodge do for the kids.
“The kids just love this, they were so excited yesterday about coming here today,” Butler said. “They (the Elks Lodge members) even remember the teachers and bus drivers, giving us some supplies that we can use in school.”
All of the teachers, the teacher aids and bus drivers were given utility baskets that contained pens, markers, hand sanitizer, paper and tissues. The Elks made sure all were given Easter treats.
“The Elks Lodge does this this for the kids for Christmas and Easter,” Butler said. “It helps to take some of the burden off the parents who might not be able to afford the baskets or the stockings for the children. It is really true, it takes a village to raise a child and the Elks are a part of the community that helps to support us.”