Special to the News Messenger
The Noon Optimist Club of Marshall met Wednesday, Nov. 20, in Hutchins Hall of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Marshall. President Le Ila Dixon convened with the ringing of the bell and Optimist Charles Dixon led in prayer followed by the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag and the recitation of the Optimist’s creed.
The meeting began with a focus on evaluating an earlier event in the month, the club and Harrison County’s first-ever birthday party for kids in foster care held Saturday, Nov. 9. But, it quickly turned into a celebration of foster care parents, appreciation for the response the club had from those who participated as volunteers, and an affirmation of the local community’s care for each other.
Miguel Delgado of St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Waskom volunteered during the FireAnt Festival to come and make balloon toys for the kids. “Miguel did not have birthday parties when he was growing up,” Optimist Julie Brock reminded us.
He started with giving out some more complicated designs he had prepared in advance such as a green-scaled snake, but basically he twisted, turned, and pinched his balloons into whatever the kids requested. “Sometimes their requests are a challenge but I enjoy keeping busy trying to meet them,” he admitted to Optimist Richard Magrill,
Optimist Ned Calvert presided over the Bouncy House where kids flopped around or danced depending on their level of skill. He expressed appreciation for the deacons of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church who provided it, as well as the hall and grounds and numerous volunteers for the event. President Le Ila noted that the women of the CPC provided the dozens of cupcakes.
The Marshall Ministerial Alliance joined in sponsoring the event and notices posted at their churches brought us two stellar volunteers in the persons of Jess Woodard of St. Joseph’s Catholic and Jesse Strickland of Port Caddo Baptist. Both arrived early and pitched right in, Jess securing the footballs and Jesse helping decorate the tables. Woodard was skilled at tossing the football to boys and to girls.
Strickland took charge of Pin the Tail on the Tiger and with Brenda LeTarte shepherded the blindfolded kids as they competed for cat puzzles.
The Petting Zoo, wrangled and shepherded by Brenda McVicar, proved to be the star attraction.
“Kids immediately headed in its direction and returned again and again,” Optimist Michele Fuller noted the appeal. Optimist Richard reported that he had run into Brenda a few days ago and told her how important she and her pig, chicken, horse, turkey, sheep and rabbits had been. “Thank you for telling me that encourages me to keep making the effort — and the kids were just wonderful,” she said.
It was inside, however, gathered around the tables with cupcakes, candles, popcorn and other snacks, that all the volunteers and kids engaged in a round of applause for the key facilitators, the foster parents who made the effort to bring their kids to enjoy the afternoon. Finally, they had received their due thanks.
A count of those present revealed an attendance of 50 about half of whom were foster kids and parents. The remainder were the volunteers from area churches and the Optimists who all had shared themselves with the kids and their parents for an afternoon of fun.
“This was a first-time effort and we hope to involve more kids and their families in future parties,” said President Le Ila.
Optimist Richard Magrill reported that CP Pastor Rusty Rustenhaven had remarked to him about receiving positive comments about the afternoon’s success. Deacon Jenann Leslie, in particular, commended the Noon Optimist Club for “such a well-planned and well-executed party.”
With thanksgiving for all who helped that day, a photo was taken.