The Elks Lodge #1880 was bustling Christmas morning as members and volunteers were preparing to host the lodge’s Home Away from Home Christmas event. The lodge played host to men and women stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base who were not able to go home for the holidays.
Elks member Penny Trojcak said the group received a lot of support from the community to make the event happen.
“We made 25 meals for the troops working on base. We know we have 30 people signed up from the Air Force to come. That doesn’t include the Marine Corps, the Navy or the Coast Guard or the Army.” she said.
Trojcak said in total, the Elks were looking to host approximately 60 people.
“I’m a retired Marine, so, I’ve had Christmases without being home, so this is just the way the Elks Lodge pays back. A lot of our Elk members are retired military or veterans, so they understand and they want to do this.” Trojcak said.
One such member is San Angelo City Council Single Member District 3 Harry Thomas, who serves as the Elks’ public relations chair.
Thomas said Home Away from Home started at Sealy Flats with Rod Bridgman and some of the downtown merchants. About three years ago, Bridgman decided to do something different and a group approached the Elks to do something, Thomas said.
As the years have progressed, Thomas said, “the word is out.” The Elks have partnered with local businesses and community members to make the day possible.
In addition to the meal, the service members will play games, receive gifts and take home desserts that have been donated from the community to enjoy later.
“Most of these young military men and women, this is their first Christmas away from home.” Thomas said. “So we always think its key to put the best foot forward, not only from San Angelo, but to let them know that they’re appreciated for what they do.”