SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ –The South Plainfield Elks Motorcycle Cycle Committee on July 16 unveiled a restored Flag Retirement Box outside of Lodge #2298.  Residents can deposit torn, tattered and/or old flags in the box and the Elks will ensure that they are disposed of in a dignified way. 

“It is specifically painted so that individuals know it is purely for deposit of retired flags only,” said Paula Janeczek, a member of the Elks for 14 years and current secretary of the Elks Motorcycle Committee.

A Flag Retirement Box was first erected outside the New Market Avenue lodge more than 20 years ago. Time, however, had caused the paint to fade and the metal to rust.

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“For years, it served a great purpose but like everything it got old and decrepit and worn out. It was here quite a while looking raggedy,” Motorcycle Committee President Brian Csobor, a member of Elks for 30 years, told TAPinto South Plainfield. “In fact, many people forgot the box was even here.” 

With the support of the lodge, the box was removed in late May and, over the next month, artist and fellow Motorcycle Committee member AJ Ferrick got to work. He stripped layers of old paint, welded holes in the metal and fixed the lock, and then repainted the box, returning it to its former glory so that residents can properly dispose of Old Glory. 

“My late father-in-law was a member of the Edison Elks for about 30 years; he passed away last year. He had painted the box that sits at that lodge,” said Ferrick. “I know he was very proud of the one he did at his lodge so when they asked me to do it I felt like he was passing the torch to me.”

Residents of the borough and the surrounding communities can deposit old and/or unwanted flags in the box and the Elks will see that they are disposed of properly and respectively. “We want residents of the town to know they can drop their flags off here,” said Csobor. 

Once a year, all of the 11 lodges in the Elks Central District gather together at the Veteran's Memorial Home in Menlo Park for a flag retirement ceremony. After the ceremony all of the collected flags are taken to a crematorium for burning. Dan Uken, a long-standing member of the South Plainfield lodge responsible for its Americanism Committee, oversees the flag retirement procedure.

“A lot of people have old flags that have served their purpose and are not longer a fitting emblem that need to be retired,” said Janeczek, who was among the first to deposit two tattered flags in the box during Monday night’s ceremony. “We want to get the word out. In this way, we are providing a service to the community and, at the same time, protecting the American Flag which, as Elks, we hold in high esteem.”

“We hope people see it and we get a lot of retired flags,” said Christine Sauer, Exalted Ruler of the South Plainfield Elks #2298, adding, that special thanks goes to the members, especially AJ [Ferrick] for ‘going above and beyond.’

“For us to go out and do something like this – it would cost around $400 or $500 – money would could very well spend on charities. I truly appreciate this,” Sauer added. “We have a terrific lodge and great group of people.”

The South Plainfield Elks – along with Elks throughout the country and the state – are dedicated to helping those in need. The 501(c)(8) not-for-profit fraternal organization is not dedicated to one specific cause or group; the Elks dedicate their services and financial resources to help a variety of organizations and individuals, including but not limited to, special needs children. 

For additional information, contact the lodge at (908) 668-9750. You can also follow the lodge on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/South-Plainfield-Elks-Lodge-2298-196458963718882/?ref=br_rs

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