Categories: Giveaways

The school gift evolves into a community and family event Eastern Feliciana

The nation embraced the No Child Left Behind initiative a few decades ago, but an event in East Feliciana Parish took it a step further to include every possible member of the family. The Community Appreciation Festival, held on August 6, focused on needs, resources and solutions for all ages.

The effort was organized by Providence No. 1 Baptist Church of Ethel and the JK Reed Community Resource Center. A string of rainy days prompted an outdoor-indoor move at the East Feliciana Parish Career Learning Center on Plank Road in Clinton.

The Rev. Cedric Murphy said the broader reach helped the event garner more community support and participation than if it stayed as a back-to-school event. “I just changed that name to Community Appreciation Festival,” he said. “I did one like that about five years ago, like two years before the pandemic.”

This previous event featured gospel music, including a prison singing group. The recent event featured cheering from Providence No. 1 Baptist Church Praise Dancers and the Anointed Singers group. “We incorporated things that we did when I was trying to grow my church about 10 years ago,” Murphy said. “I wanted to bring it all together in a total community function.”

The effort found a field of dreams once the foundations were laid. The seniors found support from representatives of the Council on Aging and Notices Helping Grandparents, a group founded to support grandparents raising their grandchildren.

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“Why wouldn’t grandparents bring their kids here because it’s not just for kids?” Murphy said. “There’s something for them to get out of the situation. I wanted to create a win-win-win-win situation for the whole community.”

Other vendors and exhibitors included Rosebuds Inc., Aetna Insurance, RKM Primary Healthcare, United Cajun Navy, Southeast Community Health Systems, Baton Rouge STEM and Louisiana Spirit Crisis Counseling.

Hundreds of backpacks were provided by Providence Church No. 1 and the Reed Center. The facilities were given by the schools of the East Feliciana Parish. Other food and funding donors included Big Star Foods, Shoppers Value of Baker, Robin Turner Eubanks, Gail Horne Ray, Todd Terrell and David Jett.

Cheery applause and raised hands were an indication that a faith-based component was evident and appreciated. “Oh my gosh, we’re closing it, but what a great time we had today in East Feliciana Parish,” Murphy said as the event came to a close. “Our praise dancers are shutting it down, but we had a great time today, being a blessing to our community.”


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