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Hundreds of Huntington kids get new winter clothes from the Elks

November 30, 2018

Katherine Spaulding, left, unpacks and stacks new winter coats purchased by Huntington's Elks Lodge 313 on Wednesday at Central City Elementary School in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — Just in time for an early bout of winter, about 100 children went home from Central City Elementary School on Wednesday with a new cold-weather wardrobe, courtesy of Huntington’s Elks Lodge 313.

While most donation drives for coats, gloves, socks and hats are met with hand-me-downs plucked from the back of the closet, the Elks furnished all clothes brand-new, straight from Macy’s, still in their packaging.

“Some of the kids, without this, they wouldn’t even have a coat,” said Katherine Spaulding, a parent partner at Central City Elementary, helping to organize the piles of clothes. “Some of them have literally come to school without a coat in this weather.”

The school of roughly 500 students serves many impoverished homes in Huntington’s West End. To get a coat that’s not only new to them, but brandnew completely, is a luxury many students aren’t often afforded, Spaulding said.

“These kids don’t often get things like this. They come out of here walking on cloud nine; they feel like a million bucks,” she said.

The Huntington Elks also furnished winter clothing earlier this week for Explorer Academy and Highlawn Elementary School, amounting to around a $3,300 purchase total, said Elks Lodge 313 Exalted Leader Dan Goheen.

Buying clothes and shoes for Huntington’s schoolchildren has long been a duty of the Elks, and one of dozens of charitable functions the fraternal order engages in locally — part of the national body’s longstanding mission.

Officially known as the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, charitable work has been at the organization’s core since its founding in 1868.

Locally, it could be as simple as paying a needy individual’s electric bill, but the Elks also contribute to local causes like the Golden Girl Group Home, the Huntington City Mission, the Salvation Army and veterans housing.

“It’s what the Elks were founded on — benevolence,” Goheen said. “All the charities that send us letters, we’re in charge of disbursing the money. And believe me, we get a lot of requests.

“It’s just like the Masonic Lodges,” he continued. “They’re super, but you never hear about them, and you never hear about us.”

Elks Lodge 313 boasts about 400 members in Huntington, though it moved from its iconic lodge on 4th Avenue near 10th Street, the group’s home since 1910. Despite this, all the charities and operations are kept running as they were, and the Elks currently meet at the Knights of Columbus building on 6th Avenue in Huntington. The new permanent home of Elks Lodge 313 is nearly complete on 3rd Avenue across from Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

“These kids don’t often get things like this. They come out of here walking on cloud nine.”

Katherine Spaulding

Central City Elementary parent partner

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