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Elks Lodge collects hides for veterans

Elks Lodge collects hides for veterans

Donated deer hides benefit veterans across the nation

Since 1999, the Elks Lodge #418 located in Charles City has been collecting deer hides to donate to veterans. The deer hide collection program through the Elks occurs nationwide, Elks Lodge member Carl Jacob said.

“We were second last year to Missouri,” Jacob said of Iowa’s statewide hide collection. “You take what Iowa and Missouri collect and they have more than the whole nation.”

The Elks collect hides with help from Frederika Locker.

“Right now when we collect them, the Frederika Locker (stores them),” Jacob said.

Frederika Locker also acts as a collection site for those who have their deer processed.

“What we take in and what gets dropped off throughout the year averages between 350 and almost 500 (hides) depending on the year,” Randy Ruth, owner of Frederika Locker, said.

At the locker, Ruth and his employees salt the hides to preserve them until it’s time to ship them to the tannery in January.

According to Ruth the coop in Frederika donates the salt needed to keep the hides from spoiling during the collection period.

“When we’re done at the end of December, first of January, we get whoever to come down here…pull all the hides out, sort them, count them and sell the tails to bucktail lures,” Ruth said.

The sale of tails helps offset some of the cost in transporting and having the hides tanned.

Once tails have been removed and the hides have been stacked and sorted they are sent to Cedar Rapids.

“We take all of our (hides) to the Cedar Rapids Elk Lodge,” Marilyn Dettmer, Elks Lodge #418 board of trustees, said. “They have an area there they collect them and a semi comes and takes them to a tannery.”

Once tanned, the hides are used to support the Veterans Leather Program. Iowa donations provided 2,654 hides for veterans to make an assortment of crafts.

“(Hides) are distributed to veterans homes throughout the country,” Dettmer said. “Marshalltown Veterans home is generally number one or two in how much leather they receive or use.”

“They make anything out of leather that they can imagine…

chaps and gun cases,” Ruth said.

The Elks Lodge across the nation plays a large role in giving veterans access to leather for their crafts.

“The Elks are the major supplier of recreational leather,” Dettmer said. Last year 15,277 hides were donated from 20 states.

Some of the crafts are given away — veterans needing wheelchair gloves are not charged for them.

Other crafts — vests, moccasins, purses, wallets — are sold.

“That stuff gives them money to buy their wheelchairs and (other needs),” Dettmer said.

Those wanting to donate their hides can either have their deer processed at the Frederika Locker or can contact Elks Lodge #418.

People wanting to donate self processed hides need to do so shortly after butchering.

“They’ve got to let us know very soon after they have the hide available because it needs to be salted, otherwise it’ll spoil and it won’t be very good,” Dettmer said.

To donate a deer hide call Elks Lodge #418 at 641-2281257.

By Amie Johansen [email protected]

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