Wednesday, December 19, 2012
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH – The Associated Branch Pilots in partnership with New Wine Christian Fellowship, Crescent City Eye Openers Kiwanis Club, Charles & Lynda Wartell, and Blessed to be a Blessing Ministry distributed toys to nearly six hundred children on Saturday, December 15 at New Wine Christian Fellowship. Senator Gary Smith, Jr. and Parish President Natalie Robottom assisted with coordination of the organizations to make the event possible. Children twelve and under received toys and those 13 through 17 years of age received Wal-Mart gift cards.
In addition to distributing toys, refreshments were served, coloring books and crayons distributed and Kids Gone Wild Artists provided face painting as Christmas music played in the background. The toy distribution was initiated by the Associated Branch Pilots of Metairie along with other organizations in an effort to provide toys for children in St. John Parish. “We adopt a community each year for Christmas and because of the two tragic events that took place in this community, we chose to adopt St. John the Baptist Parish,” said Michael Rooney, President of the New Orleans Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots Association. They were joined by others who wanted to assist this year following Hurricane Isaac. “We used to live here and after we heard about the impact Hurricane Isaac had on the community, we wanted to do something to help,” said Attorney Charles Wartell. “After speaking with the District Attorney, we found out about the toy distribution and decided to provide some toys and participate in the distribution,” he added. “We are happy to be here and happy to help; it’s the least we can do.” said Wartell. The remaining toys will be distributed to those in need for Christmas. Bags of groceries were also distributed to families upon leaving the event to assist with a Christmas meal.
All toys were separated by age and gender and handed out in an orderly fashion. “I enjoyed the event and we are so grateful that these organizations are thinking of our children during this holiday season,” said Arlisha Coxie. Ms. Coxie is a resident of Cambridge subdivision, currently living with her children and mother in Reserve while her home is being repaired. “Our home is coming along and we are working hard so we can move back in,” she added.
Other toy distributions will take place this upcoming weekend. The St. John Sheriff's Office, the Sheriff's Office Young Marines and St. John Parish Fire Departments collected toys throughout the month of December and will distribute them this Saturday, December 22 at the St. John Parish Civic Center located at 1929 Hwy 51 in LaPlace from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. USMC Toys for Tots, Breakthru Media Magazine, River Region Kiwanis, Riverlands Christian Center and LaCare will host a “Toy Giveaway” for St. John children on Saturday, December 22 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Riverlands Christian Center, NW 3rd St. in Reserve. Admission is free and there will be live entertainment.