As they have done over the past several years, members of Fresno Elks Lodge 439 planned to host a St. Patrick’s Day party for residents of the Veterans Homes of California-Fresno. They invited the veterans and their spouses to the Lodge for a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner in March.
Then, just nine days before the event, Coronavirus COVID-19 forced them to cancel. The cancellation didn’t stop the Elks from doing something good for the veterans, though.
“We have a love of country, and our appreciation of what our veterans have done is very strong,” said Susan Good, Elks Lodge 439’s past president. “It’s very personal.”
The Elks planned to pay for the dinner using a $2,500 “Beacon Grant” received from the Elks National Foundation. The grant is for a community service project done on an annual basis. When they had to nix the St. Patrick’s Day dinner, they simply redirected the money to benefit the veterans at VHC-Fresno instead.
“Why not get hand-held games?” Good said. “They could play against each other at a distance.”
Good went online and found three different electronic game options: Solitaire, blackjack and poker. She ordered 87 of them, finding some at $38 for a set of three hand-held games, through Amazon.
“They didn’t start coming in until April 9, and they were coming in in spurts,” Good said. “From different vendors through Amazon. It was weird. We had packages come with one (set, instead of multiple sets).”
She waited until all of the games arrived. Meeting at the home of one of the members and working six feet apart, she and two other Elks removed the games from their packaging to place stickers on the backs that read, “During COVID-19 Pandemic, compliments of Fresno Elks Lodge 439.”
After wiping the games down with disinfectant, they took them to the Home on April 16. There, staff stored the games for two weeks before being distributed to veterans interested in playing this past week. Each participating veteran will keep the games as their own, rather than sharing them.
“The Elks have long been great friends to the veterans and residents of the Veterans Home of California-Fresno,” VHC-Fresno Administrator Lawrence Imperial said. “We’re grateful for their support and dedication. These hand-held electronic games will help our residents at a time when they can’t have family and friends visit them due to COVID-19.”