Hunters can donate deer hides to help Elks make gloves for vets

This photo from the website shows Dennis McAleese, right, Veterans Leather Program chair, speaking with a wheelchair-bound veteran who received a pair of reinforced, fingerless buckskin gloves as part of the Elks Lodge program. The Elks Club makes the gloves from deer hides donated by hunters.

Deer hunters are being asked to bring the hides from their harvested deer to Elks Clubs in West Plains or Mountain Home, Arkansas, to participate in the Elks’ national program that makes buckskin gloves for veterans in wheelchairs. 

Dennis McAleese, of Elizabeth, Arkansas, is the national chairman for the Elks’ Leather Program. He encourages hunters to bring their deer hides to a refrigerator on the back deck of the Elks Club on Highway 62 east in Mountain Home. “It’s next to Twin Lakes Golf Club, and down from Kent Chevrolet,” he said. 

Behind the lodge, in the middle of the building, there’s a ramp to a door, McAleese said. Up the ramp, there’s refrigerator with a sign attached to it, asking participants to leave the deer hide, in a plastic bag, in the refrigerator and call him (870-488-5786) to let him know it’s there. 

McAleese will retrieve the deer hide and send it to Tennessee for processing into leather. Then the leather is sent to other sites where it’s turned into reinforced, fingerless gloves that are distributed through the Elks’ Veterans Volunteer Services assigned to various VA hospitals around the country. 

The West Plains Elks Club also collects deer hides for the program. The club is on Highway 63 1 1/2 miles south of Highway 14. A spokesperson told the Times that participants are asked to fold the hides with the hair to the inside, put them in a plastic bag and bring them to the club to deliver them directly to a staffer from 2 to 10 p.m., or, after hours, deposit them in freezers behind the building. For more information, call the West Plains Elks at 417-256-7955.

The website says the program, which started in 1948, collected nearly 16,000 hides in 16 states during the Elks’ 2017-18 fiscal year. The result was 3,336 pairs of free wheelchair gloves distributed to veterans. McAleese, himself, gave more than 400 pairs of wheelchair gloves to vets last year as he traveled to veterans events.

The leather is also included in therapy craft kits or other gifts used by disabled veterans groups. 

Ozark County Times

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