The Florida State Elks Association (FSEA) comprises many separate but integrated philanthropic organizations, the 2nd and foremost being the Harry-Anna Trust Fund. This vital program encompasses a number of youth programs, as well as the Army of Hope, which renders aide and services to the families of anyone deployed by the military, whether its household, financial needs or medical services.
Under the Elks National Foundation and the Harry-Anna Trust Fund, there are a number of national and state programs for children. The Elks National Foundation funds more college and educational scholarships than any other in the nation, second only to the U.S. Government. The possibility of higher education becomes a reality to children, who are encouraged to strive for success from a young age. There are educational enticements, such as the Most Valuable Student Scholarship Program (which annually awards nearly $3 million in scholarships to seniors nationwide), and the Dictionary Project has already distributed nearly 7 million dictionaries to third-grade children.
We believe that if children are reaching for something positive and encouraged to believe they can achieve, they're less likely to grab hold of today's many temptations. The Elks Drug Awareness and Prevention Program encourages healthy lifestyles and good choices, providing educational materials and alcohol-free dances, proms and other activities. In the National Hoop Shoot, over 3 million boys and girls compete for trophies and the opportunity to have their names inscribed on a plaque at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
In Florida, our youth program includes our Elks Youth Camp. This state-of-the-art 410-acre facility offers sports and activities, first-class housing and amenities, and encourages and broadens the horizons of our youth. It is available to every Florida child. No one is turned away based on financing. The Florida Elks Children's Therapy Services provide youth physical therapy programs to address a variety of needs at no cost to the family.
There is a new face to the FSEA. These men and women work continuously and voluntarily to organize goods and services that help those in the need and upholds the legacy and mission originally set forth by founding members some 150 years ago. We urge everyone to learn more about this organization and to carry on our tradition by supporting and becoming an Elk. But even if its just for this one night, you can be part of something that will serve children and help families to continue the American dream of Freedom and the Pursuit of Happiness, the right to education and the chance for children to become all they can be, therapeutic programs for those who cannot provide for themselves and support for the families of our military when they're in need.
So it is with this mission in mind that we present the 2nd Annual Harry-Anna Trust Gala of Hope to raise funds to support these programs. But it is also to raise awareness of the extensive work done by the Florida State Elks Association and to invite people to participate in this organization. Therefore, the name of our event, reflects the purpose of the Harry-Anna Trust Fund and the concept of Hope for any U.S. citizen, particularly our children. Every dollar raised, stays in Florida to support these local agencies. Thank you for coming and have a delightful evening of food, festivities and fellowship.
Edward K. Jackson, VP