The Elks’ involvement in the war against illegal drug use had its beginnings in 1981, when the federal government cut back spending on many domestic programs. A call went out to all Americans for volunteerism to make up for these cuts in federal funding, and the Elks responded.

In 1982, the Elks contacted more than 2,000 mayors across the country, asking them to identify their greatest community problem in which volunteers could effectively help. The answer was resounding. More than 70 percent -- from all regions of the country and from cities, villages and rural communities -- said that drug use was their greatest problem and that volunteers could most certainly help.

With this knowledge, the Elks took on the task of developing an effective, community-based drug-prevention program. Although much progress has been made since the Elks Drug Awareness Education Program was first announced in 1983, the need for volunteer programs to help combat drug use still exists.

The Elks program is intended to reach children in elementary and junior high school, particularly fourth- through ninth-grade students, whose attitudes and behavior can still be influenced. The objective is to increase their awareness through education of the adverse consequences of drug use, so that they decide for themselves to avoid drugs.