Editorial: Elks deserve congratulations on success

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 27, 2002

For Albert Lea to have the largest Elks Club by far in the state says a lot about a few things. For one, it says the group’s leaders and members must have been aggressive in recruiting. It also says members of the Albert Lea community must be very interested in service, because the Elks has proven to be one of the most successful community service organizations in the nation.

The recruitment effort was led for years by Paul Hanson, until his death in 1999. Carrying on his father’s legacy, his son Jim Hanson has carried the club’s membership efforts forward since then. Both have been keys to the lodge’s success.

Their efforts have helped attract the Elks state convention for the second time in a decade. This year’s convention begins today in Albert Lea, and the group will receive an honor recognizing it as the state’s premier club. With more than 2,000 members, the local Elks claim a membership larger than ten percent of the population of Albert Lea. The lodge is more than twice the size of the next-largest in the state.

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The local club, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, gives out around $100,000 in donations, mileage and time every year to support community programs, mostly for youth. From sports to scholarships to camp programs, the Elks are a leader in supporting young people.

With such a large membership and such an ambitious slate of service projects, it’s easy to conclude that the Albert Lea Elks lodge is the city’s most influential private service club &045; in a town with a rich tradition of service as exemplified by the many other clubs that, along with the Elks, provide fellowship, social outlets and, of course, opportunities to serve.

Albert Lea should be proud to have the state’s largest Elks lodge, and members of the club should be congratulated for continuing to grow and to effect positive change in their community.