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Elks to celebrate 150 years of BPOE

The Ironton Elks will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks (BPOE).

To celebrate, they will have an open house on Feb. 16 in their clubroom, 416 Park Ave. in Ironton. They will have a complimentary taco bar, live music and a cash bar starting at 7 p.m.  The event is free to the public. They invite people to stop by and explore the benefits of Elks membership.

The Ironton Elks has roughly 300 members and their Exalted Leader, Brad Washburn, said their mission is to give back to the community.

“We are very involved in the community. We recently donated money to the Ironton Police Department for needle resistant gloves,” he said. “We give a lot back to the community. We helped out with the batting cage nets for the Little League, we donated funds to the Domestic Violence Shelter.”

During the Christmas holiday, the Elks played Santa to Rock Hill Elementary students with disabilities.

“We delivered presents and threw them a pizza party,” Washburn said. “We do a lot of different things to pay the community back.”

He said the money comes from various fundraisers the group does.

“We have our annual golf scramble and other charity events we do,” Washburn said. “Anything we raise goes right back into the community.”

The Ironton Elks was founded in 1892 and they will have their third annual golf scramble in May as part of the celebration.

“It has been a very successful event,” Washburn said, adding that, as of now, it is going to be at the Ironton Country Club. “We had it at the Oaks but decided to bring it back to our side of the river. It’s an exciting event.”

The BPOE was founded in New York City as a social under the name “Jolly Corks” on Feb. 16, 1868. Its founders were actors, entertainers and others involved in the theater scene. In ensuing years, membership expanded to other professions.

The Jolly Corks switched their group’s name, and its mission, after the death of one of its members left his wife and family with an income. The group chose an elk to represent the club because of its size and because the animal is native to America.

The group was founded “To promote and practice the four cardinal virtues of Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity; to promote the welfare and enhance the happiness of its members; to quicken the spirit of American Patriotism and cultivate good fellowship.”

For more information contact the Elks after 3 p.m. at 740-532-1262 or elks177@gmail.com. They are on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ironton.elks