By Morgan Bryce

Members of the Auburn-Opelika Elks Lodge #1834 held its annual luncheon for local first responders last Thursday at the Opelika Fire Department headquarters on Avenue B.
According to lodge president Bennett Jones, the purpose of the event is to show appreciation for first responders’ service and sacrifice as well as promote the true heart of his group’s mission.
“The motto of the Elks is ‘Elks Care, Elks Share.’ That’s what we try to embody through events like this,” Jones said. “We want the community to know that we are a benevolent organization and our goal is to help others in need – no matter who, where, race, color or creed.”
Representatives from OFD, Lee County EMS and Sheriff’s Office and Opelika Police Department, among others, were treated to a meal from Butcher Paper BBQ and entered into a door-prize contest for televisions provided by King Honda.
“Anything I can do for police, fire fighters, first responders, I’m gonna do. We support them in every possible way we can, and for us to be able to do something like this as a way to thank is an honor,” said Butcher Paper owner Mark Coxwell.
Fresh off the shooting of Auburn Police Department officer Justin Sanders and the two March 3rd tornadoes that hit Lee County, OPD Capt. Bobby Kilgore said the luncheon came at a much needed time for he and other first responders.
“The last few weeks have been nothing but surreal, a series of big events back to back. I feel like everybody in this county and other parts of the state came together unbelievably well,” Kilgore said.
Lodge secretary Carolyn Coburn said their group has and will continue to assist with recovery efforts in Beauregard.
For more information about the lodge and its other initiatives, like and follow their Facebook page. The lodge is located at 1944 Opelika Road.