WORTHINGTON - Beginning Thursday, Worthington will host the annual State Elks Convention, due in part to that fact that this year’s Minnesota State Elks President is Chris Heinrichs, a Worthington native.

Heinrichs, a retired Worthington police officer and an Elks member since 2009, is excited about his new role in the organization.

“The Elks organization gives a lot of time and funding to children’s activities and veterans, and those are things I am proud to be part of,” he said.

The Worthington Elks Lodge in particular does a lot of work with the local school concerts and with the Veterans Home in Luverne.

Elks also accepts requests for assistance from members of the community.

Over the 2018-2019 year, the Worthington Elks Lodge donated more than $60,000 to local causes.

The weekend’s convention will welcome about 250 Elks from all over the state, Heinrichs said. His election as the next State President is only part of the reason for Elks choosing Worthington.

Heinrichs has served as the district president over the south district for the last four years, so he has been a prominent figure for some time. However, he said, Elks Lodges must begin applying to host the state convention three years in advance, so the process began long before he was elected.

“This takes a lot of planning,” he explained. About a dozen people work together to plan the state convention, including transportation, housing and activities for everyone in attendance.

The agenda for the weekend includes reports on this year’s activities, presentation of plans for the coming year, a memorial service for Elks members who have died over the last year and installation of the new officers, including Heinrichs.

“It’s a big responsibility,” Heinrichs said of his new role.

His responsibilities will include overseeing the budget and assisting the district presidents. Heinrichs said what he is most excited for, though, is meeting people.

“I am really looking forward to visiting all the lodges in the state,” he said. There are 24 Elks Lodges in Minnesota, from Worthington to International Falls. Over the course of his one-year term, Heinrichs will need to visit each lodge.

Anyone interested in joining the Elks may learn more by contacting Heinrichs or any other Elk. About 20 Elks are initiated each year in Minnesota. The basic requirements to apply are that the applicant must be an American citizen and must believe in God. When someone joins the local Elks Lodge, they join the nationwide Elks organization, too.