Area hunters can donate their leftover deer hides to a good cause once again this year, as the Washington Elks up their donation goal to 1,559.
The goal, which mirrors the Washington lodge number, is a reflection of last year’s haul of roughly 1,600 deer hides, far surpassing the 2016 goal of 950 donations.
This will be the the fourth year the Washington Elks Lodge has asked area hunters to donate their hides to benefit the National Elks Veterans Leather program.
After hides are donated, they are tanned, cut and sewn into gloves, which are distributed to veterans in wheelchairs to help protect their hands.
Some of the leather also is given to veterans homes, where veterans can make crafts and pouches to sell and raise money for personal items.
In 2015-16 year, nationwide, the Leather Program collected 17,103 hides. From that, 2,843 pairs of gloves were distributed to veterans. The gloves are valued at $25 each, totaling $70,570 in donations.
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.
Past Exalted Ruler and lodge trustee Nicholas Mueller, who organizes the donation program, said he was excited to see so much participation this past year. He said it exceeded expectations.
“It made for a busy year, but we’re always looking to up our total,” Mueller said. “We far surpassed what we expected.”
The Washington Elks’ Lodge collected more hides than some entire states, according to Past Exalted Ruler Barb Delleart.
The Washington Lodge began collecting hides in 2013 and since have collected more than 2,000 hides.
Donors should place the hide in a trash bag and freeze it to prevent spoiling.
The frozen hides can be dropped off at the Washington Elks Lodge; Duck’s Bar and Grill, Marthasville; Harvey’s Body Shop, Hermann; VFW Post 6133, Owensville; and the Union Grab & Go.
Hides will be collected through the end of January.
For more information, call Nicholas Mueller, 636-584-3974.