Cops spread Christmas cheer to area children

Lisa Yates @Lisa_editor
The Gonzales Police Dept. teamed up with Needy of Greater Baton Rouge to collect a room full of toys for area children this Christmas. Shown are Tracey and Tim Arceneaux, Tim Couret, and Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson.

Thanks to the generosity of Ascension Parish residents, dozens of children from less fortunate families will be the recipient of the Gonzales Police Department and Fraternal Order of Police Toy Drive.

Gonzales Chief of Police Sherman Jackson said law enforcement partnered with Needy of Greater Baton Rouge, a nonprofit organization, to bring joy to area children.

"It's all about seeing the kids happy," he said. "I know how things are. Families want to have a good Christmas for their children, but sometimes tragedy in life happens."

Chief Jackson said law enforcement teams work with area teachers to find the neediest kids in the area to receive the toys.

"Teachers spend the greatest part of the day with the kids, so they know," he said. "Some of the kids are living in foster care and don't have their families for the holidays. Some have parents who've lost their jobs. So it's a blessing to step in and make someone happy. It's also a positive thing for the community. The kids see us out delivering toys and not just out arresting people."

The police chief said the GPD and FOP have been partnering with Needy of Greater Baton Rouge for more than five years.

"Before partnering with Tim's organization, we would stand outside of a store and sell jambalaya to raise money," he said. "Now we are able to serve more children and we're grateful for that."

On Wednesday, Dec. 12, Tim Arceneaux, president of Needy of Greater Baton Rouge, and his wife Tracey pulled up in a pick up truck towing a 16-foot trailer loaded down with new unwrapped toys for children. With the help of the police chief and other officers, they unloaded the cargo to fill a room at the police station with hundreds of donated gifts including dolls, books, sporting equipment, toys for infants and cologne for teenagers.

To make the toy drive a success, Arceneaux said Needy of Greater Baton Rouge partners with local businesses that serve as locations where community members drop off gifts and donations.

"The donations from the community are how we're able to do what we do, but the glory belongs to God," he said. "We are his servants."

Arceneaux said his father J.C. started the organization in the mid 70s. He said the organization is his year round-ministry to provide for the needs of people living in a three parish area.

"God laid it on my heart to continue the work and help in whatever way we can," he said. "If we weren't partnered with the Gonzales Police Department, we couldn't accomplish what we accomplish. It takes all of us working together."

Tim Couret of Gonzales serves on the board of directors for Needy of Greater Baton Rouge. In addition to the toy drive, he said the nonprofit organization provides Easter baskets for children, coats for kids, monthly food vouchers for senior citizens, and more.

"We also provide Christmas gifts for the elderly living in nursing homes," he said. "Many of them don't have any family. We find out what their needs are from the people there."

To donate, call Needy of Greater Baton Rouge at (225) 2481020.