Manasquan Elks make donations to veterans home, food pantries

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Manasquan Elks Lodge 2534 Veterans Committee co-chairs, Dick Mercora and Frank Vario, with Christine Caratozzolo, supervisor of recreation for the NJ Veterans Home at Menlo Park in Edison. COURTESY OF MELISSA COLVIN

MANASQUAN — The Manasquan Elks Lodge 2534 made a donation to the Menlo Park Veterans Home last week to provide extra support to the facility.

On Thursday, May 27, veterans committee co-chairs Dick Mercora and Frank Vario loaded up a truck with $2,500 worth of supplies and delivered the items to the veterans home located in Edison.

The donation was made possible through the Elks National Veterans Service Commission Freedom Grant, which is a competitive grant that only 325 lodges nationwide received, according to the Elks National Foundation.

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The items donated were wishlist items requested by the veterans home, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus, Elks National Foundation Chair Melissa Colvin said, with the death of nearly 100 residents as well as employees.

“Our veterans committee has always tried to help Menlo Park. In fact, prior to COVID, they always ran a casino day up there,” Ms. Colvin said.

While the veterans committee could not hold casino day the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ms. Colvin said the grant allows the committee and lodge to continue its mission of supporting the veterans home.

“We helped last year with safety items,” Mr. Mercora said. “This time we felt we would help based on their wish list … a new TV, karaoke machine, etc.”

Last August the Elks donated $2,600 worth of supplies to the facility, including $900 of personal protective equipment, $800 of clothing and hygiene supplies and $900 in craft supplies.

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