Winslow Elk’s have big hand in veteran rehabilitation program

Winslow Elk’s member Gene Brooks is the State Leather Chairman for the Arizona Elk’s Association program that donates hides for veteran’s to use in the rehabilitation process. Above, he gives a stack of hides a push while Frank Gose gets a forklift underneath to move the pile.

Gene Brooks, along with a team of 13 volunteers, has put over 8,000 hours into collecting, salting and stacking the hides.

The hides, which are deposited in barrels throughout nearby forests by hunters, are salted to preserve them. Jerry Richards, one of the volunteers, said over 9 tons of salt is used to do this.

The hides are shipped to a tannery in Utah where they are processed. They are then taken to veterans hospitals where they are made into wallets, belts, and moccasins.

Leather gloves are also made for wheelchair-bound veterans to protect their hands while they are moving their chairs.

This program began in 1948 when the Elk’s of California began gathering hides. Today, 17 states participate. Arizona is among the largest producer of raw hides.

The Elk’s National Veterans Service Commission pays for the shipping and distribution.

This year, Winslow’s Lodge No. 536 has collected 1487 hides for the program. They began collecting hides on Sept. 1, 2002.

Brooks expects to get over 500 more hides before they are shipped to the tannery on February 15.

For the second year in a row, Winslow’s Lodge has set a state and national record for their collection.

This year they have collected elk hides, as well as deer, moose, pig and buffalo. In the past they have even collected a bear hide.

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