In 1867, Charles Vivian formed the ''Jolly Corks,'' a general purpose social club, the forerunner of the Elks we know today. A spirit of benevolence came quickly to our founders. In 1867, one of the members died leaving his wife and family destitute. This made them recognize the need for a more enduring organization to help family members in need. On February 16th of1868 the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was founded.
The B.P.O. Elks have become an integral part of communities nationwide. Our order was first to observe June 14th as Flag Day in 1907. President Harry S. Truman, an Elk himself, declared it a National Holiday in 1947. During World War I, Elks funded and equipped the first field hospitals in France. They built medical centers and community houses in the United States.
Our order first loaned money to 40,000 returning veterans for rehabilitation and education, precursor to the modern G.I. Bill. The Elks recruited construction workers for the military in World War II, donated millions of pints of blood during the Korean War, helped wounded soldiers in Vietnam, and undertook letter writing campaigns to support the men and women of Operation Desert Storm.
Elks serve youth and others in need through a variety of programs. The annual ''Hoop-Shoot'', scholarships and grants from the Elks National Foundation are second only to the Federal Government. State Major Projects help handicapped children and bring health care where it is needed. Elks Drug Awareness programs sponsor D.A.R.E. groups and distribute motivational pamphlet to grade school children.