LSU AgCenter New Orleans Hornets Help Families Brighten Their Holidays

Linda Benedict, Faul, Terril D., Bairnsfather, Deborah M., Mayers, Krishanda L.  |  4/19/2005 10:29:23 PM

News Release Distributed 12/17/04


LAKE PROVIDENCE – Christmas will be brighter for some East Carroll Parish residents thanks to the LSU AgCenter and the New Orleans Hornets basketball team.

In a cooperative effort, the team brought $15,000 in toys to Lake Providence Thursday (Dec. 16). The toys were targeted toward making Christmas a little more economical for the families of some involved in the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H youth development program – as well as supporting the program.

Priced far below retail value, the toys were sold to the parents of East Carroll Parish 4-H’ers at a discounted price. In turn, money raised from the event went to the East Carroll Parish 4-H Foundation.

Alice Willis is one mother who said the event "really helped" her with her Christmas shopping.

"I did find some things that are on my children’s list," said Willis, a mother of five. "The items were a lot cheaper than I could buy them at the store. Also, I work full-time and don’t have much time to shop. There aren’t many stores in Lake Providence to shop at, so this really helps."

This area of Northeast Louisiana is one of the poorest in the state and the nation. The LSU AgCenter is working on a variety of projects designed to help spur economic development and improve living conditions for those in the area.

Suzanne Werdann, vice president of community relations for the Hornets, said "4-H is a great partner of ours" and that the toy sale was just one way to give back to this community.

Each year, the Hornets host a 4-H Night With The Hornets. 4-H’ers from all over the state go to a Hornets game in New Orleans and participate in activities ranging from appearances on court to serving as entertainers. This celebration for 2005 will be held Feb. 11.

"East Carroll Parish always brings more kids to our games than any other parish," Werdann said. "They are great supporters of ours, and this (toy sale) is just one way to give back to them."

Werdann said the team could have just donated the toys, but decided it would be better to let the parents buy the toys and then give them to their children.

"And we’re giving all money raised to the East Carroll Parish 4-H Foundation," she said. "So the money is staying right here."

A total of $4,000 was raised from the sale. Krishanda Mayers, an LSU AgCenter 4-H agent in East Carroll Parish, said the money will be used to help send 4-H’ers from her parish to 4-H Camp and 4-H University (formerly 4-H Short Course), as well as to help pay for costs associated with other activities in which the 4-H’ers participate.

"A lot of our 4-H’ers don’t have a lot of money to do things with," Mayers said. "This (money) will help a lot."

Debbie Bairnsfather, an LSU AgCenter regional 4-H coordinator, said the toy sale was a great way to show the holiday spirit.

"We had people who started lining up at 8:30 a.m.," Bairnsfather said. "The sale didn’t start until 10 a.m. This is really a great way to help others at Christmas."

Terril Faul, head of 4-H Youth Development for the LSU AgCenter, agrees.

"This gives parents an opportunity to be able to buy something to give their kids at Christmas," Faul said. "To think that the Hornets picked this group out of every one in the state to help is pretty special."

The toy sale is part of the Hornets’ 12 Days of Giving. In addition to the East Carroll Parish toy sale, the team will be taking part in other events around the state throughout the Christmas season, Werdann said.

Activities such as this are just one of the many ways the LSU AgCenter is helping improve the lives of people living in the Delta Region of Louisiana. Agents specializing in economics, health and other areas are working throughout the region and across the state.

To find out more about Louisiana 4-H, contact your local LSU AgCenter office or go to www.lsuagcenter.com.

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Contacts:       Debbie Bairnsfather at (318) 435-2903 or 
                        dbairnsfather@agcenter.lsu.edu
                       Terril Faul at (225) 578-2196 or tfaul@agcenter.lsu.edu
                        Krishanda Mayers at (318) 559-3125 or kmayers@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:            A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or 
                        dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

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