Ascension citizens shop for the less fortunate at annual Christmas Crusade

Darian Graivshark
Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office employee's hand out cards with family names on them.

Gather inside the decked halls for an evening of giving!

The Annual Christmas Crusade at the Walmart in Gonzales was held on December 11. This year was the twentieth year it has been going on. The Crusade began with Sheriff Jeff Wiley, just a few years after he became Sheriff.

"There are between 800 to 850 kids that we will be shopping for tonight," Public Information Officer of the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office Allison Hudson said. "It’s typically $40 dollars per child. Shoppers get a card with what a family’s needs are for the holidays, and then they go shop for it. It can be anything from clothes to toys."

One hundred, fifty-five Gonzales families will be receiving toys, while 131 Donaldsonville families will be receiving gifts as well.

They raise money for the Christmas Crusade through donations via businesses or individuals. It's always a great way to involve the community and spread the holiday cheer.

"This event makes me feel warm inside," Chief Deputy Bobby Webre said. "We get to see the community come together, helping one another. Thousands of parents are going to be filled with joy, because they can give their children presents for Christmas, whereas without this program they may not be able to."

Businesses within the community come to help with the shopping. Not only businesses, but church groups and children from different schools. Anyone is able to come help out on this night, they just had to show up.

"It's great to see some of our deputies coming out, too, that work the streets and see them getting involved with the community like this," Webre said.

On Saturday, December 15 beginning at 9 a.m., will be the distribution of the gifts to the families that filled out the application. Two hundred bikes will also be given away to children who need it, courtesy of Marines Bike for Tykes.

Sam Decoteau, retired Marine Colonel, helps organize the Bikes for Tykes and puts together the donations for this every year.

"We do fundraisers at Pelican Point Country Club, Ralph’s in Saint Amant, and even talk

to our neighbors in the community to ask if they'd like to donate for the purchase of bikes," Decoteau said. "We spent about $13,000 dollars on the bikes this year, and whatever money we have left over will rollover for next years purchases. It's always better to give than to receive, so that's why we get involved the way we do."

"We really fill up Walmart every year during this event, and we almost inconvenience them," Webre said. "The event goes pretty fast, though, and it's always a fun time."

"The great thing about this is that all of the money we raise for this event in spent locally at the Walmart." Hudson said. "We don’t spend the money online, and everything that we do raise is spent here in our parish."

If there are any leftover cards at the end of the night with family names on them, the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office will do the remaining shopping so no family is left out.

Follow Darian on Twitter @dariangshark.