The Washington Elks Lodge 1559 exceeded its goal of collecting 1,950 deer hides by more than 500 leathers. 

The lodge gathered roughly 2,500 leathers this year. The deer hides will be used to create gloves for veterans.

Former Exalted Ruler and lodge trustee Nicholas Mueller, who organizes the donation program, said it was a busy year.

“We had a lot of support from the community because of how busy it was,” he said. 

This is the Washington Elks fifth year of participating in the nationwide program. 

The lodge’s first year in the program brought in 119 hides. Now, they’re bringing in over 2,000. 

“We’re looking forward to next year,” Mueller said. 

Last year, the lodge collected 1,709 hides, surpassing that year’s goal of 1,559 leathers.

After hides are donated, tanned, cut and sewn into gloves, they’re distributed to veterans in wheelchairs to help protect their hands.

Some of the leather also is given to veterans homes, where vets can make crafts and pouches to sell and raise money for personal items.

The Elks Leather Program collected 15,983 hides nationwide last year. This year’s total is still being calculated.

From the hides that were donated last year, 3,336 pairs of gloves were distributed to veterans. 

The Elks also donated 104,160 square feet of leather to provide the free craft kits. A little more than 3,000 veterans received those kits. 

The program started in 1948 in California as a state project. In order to make the leather available for all VA centers, the Elks National Veterans Service Commission arranged funding for tanning and shipping the hides across the nation.