The Marietta Elks club played host to their first fundraiser of the holiday season with a chili cook-off, where 12 members made their best homemade chili, which in years past has included options such as venison.
The organization, a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the U.S.A., a national fraternal charitable organization, raised $500 from the 60 people who stopped by the lodge for a bowl.
Formed in 1942, the local Marietta Elks Lodge 1657, located behind the Kroger grocery story on the corner of Powders Springs Road and Macland Road, has 75 members.
For the past 11 years, the Marietta Elks club has used the proceeds from this and other community donations to give a complete Christmas to local families.
Last year, the group supported 12 families, including 19 children, said Nita Knighton, secretary for the Elks lodge and the first woman elected into the local chapter.
Knighton said every year, members of the lodge see a real need in the community, with many requests for clothing and coats.
Being in charge of the cook-off and the holiday giving is a challenge, Knighton said, but the reward is “knowing you are making a little kid’s Christmas.”
The Elks lodge donates toys and gifts, such as board games and bicycles, and also gives each family a $100 Kroger gift card.
The presents, along with wrapping paper and a Christmas tree, are delivered to each family, with a little something for the parents to open as well, Knighton said.