RUMFORD — The local Elks lodge is looking for ideas that could keep the fraternal organization going.

A special meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the lodge “to decide if we want to remain a lodge or lock our doors,” according to an  advertisement.

Unlike other fraternal groups, the Elks do not rent their River Street lodge for weddings or other events and they don’t operate bingo games. Instead, their operating funds come from memberships and occasional fundraisers, said Sandee Welch, exalted ruler of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks lodge No. 862.

“We need to get input, to do more, to move forward,” she said.

Although the lodge lists about 320 members, down from 370 a decade ago, only a few turn out to help run community events.

“It’s very important to continue to be involved in the community,” said Ann White, past exalted ruler and current chairwoman of the Board of Trustees. “We hope members feel the same.”

The mission of the BPOE is to serve the community through benevolent, charitable and patriotic programs, according to its website.

Among the regular programs the local lodge supports are annual hoop shoots for youths ages 8-13, Mother’s Day services, Father’s Day breakfasts, and Flag Day ceremonies. The organization also helps out veterans at Christmastime and donates time to local senior citizen organizations, among other activities, White said.

“We need to try to get the youth involved. There is a danger of closing in the near future,” she said.

The Rumford Elks spent much of their savings bringing the century-old brick lodge up to code, she added.

White said she believes the economy has had a detrimental affect on the lodge as well as on similar fraternal organizations.

“People have cut back on going out because it’s a financial strain,” she said.

Welch, who is a 13-year member and has led the local lodge for three years, said ideas and new members from all age groups are wanted.

White said she has confidence that members will come forward, “so we can continue with our activities.”

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