This letter is in answer to your article “Declaring Independence,” which recapped the funding proposals of our legislators. You referred to break-open tickets as a “shadowy form of state-sanctioned gambling.” As president of the Vermont Elks Association (VEA), I’d like to shed some light on this important revenue source, which supports local communities across Vermont.
The funds raised by the sale of the tickets in fraternal and other service organizations are used entirely to support charitable work throughout Vermont. The VEA, representing its 13 member lodges, uses this funding to sponsor children’s sports teams, events, and camps; drug awareness programs; and numerous veterans programs. As well, it offers cash donations to programs and causes such as Meals on Wheels, emergency food shelves, parent-child centers, Project Independence, emergency fuel programs, Warm the Children and free medical clinics — just to name a few.
The National Elks organization gives more in scholarships to our young Americans than any other group except for the federal government — this includes a resource for Vermont students.
The funds are also used to support the VEA’s Silver Towers Camp for People with Disabilities (Ripton). Silver Towers was the first residential camp for people with special needs in our country. Campers, ages 7 to 77 years, join us from across New England and do not need to be affiliated with the Elks. Without the resource of this revenue, our camp, and all of the causes named in the previous paragraph, would be in serious jeopardy.
The governor’s proposed surcharge would devastate the good works done in communities across Vermont by the VEA and other service organizations. I hope that this letter has shed light on what is not at all a shadowy endeavor, but a resource that supports, assists, and helps Vermont’s local communities.
LORI F. PINSONNEAULT
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