For five years, Osage Beach Elks Lodge 2517 has been on a mission to make veterans feel remembered during the holidays.

For five years, Osage Beach Elks Lodge 2517 has been on a mission to make veterans feel remembered during the holidays. 

Elks member Joann Bodziony has been taking part in this annual event for three years as part of the veteran’s committee. As a former nursing home employee, she remembers seeing many members left alone during the Christmas season. To remedy this, she, alongside the other Elks members, goes to 5 different lake nursing homes in December to hand out gifts to veteran residents. In 2019, they will serve 43 veterans with these gift bags. 

The group starts this process by handing out a flow sheet to the various nursing home directors to get names of the veterans living in their location, alongside their branch and pants and shirt size. Once this is figured out, each veteran on the list is allowed to make a request for a gift they want that year. Bodziony says that some previous gift examples were an electric razor or drafting paper and pencils.  

The shirt and pants size is taken because this year, every veteran will receive a vest with an embroidered logo of their branch, whether they request a specific gift or not. This is all done free of charge. 

As a 22-year veteran of the navy reserves, Bodziony says that it brings her great joy to know that she is helping a fellow veteran at this time of the year. She says that the Elks Lodge likes to do as much as possible to make sure veterans are remembered and honored for the service they provided to our country.

“It’s fantastic to know that we are able to make someone’s day a little brighter,” Bodziony said.