By Hannah Richardson
For a quarter of a century, one local organization has seen to it that children have presents on Christmas day. The Natchitoches Area Jaycees, also known as the Natchitoches Junior Chamber of Commerce, are currently preparing for their 25th Annual Make-A-Smile-Happen (MASH) toy drive, hosted in the Natchitoches Wal-Mart parking lot Dec. 11-12, the traditional weekend after Christmas Festival.
The Jaycees have been dedicated to local community service for over 60 years. “Several other groups in town collect and contribute toys through our drive. We’re glad for the Krewe of Excellence, NSU Athletics, LSMSA, Les Amies and other groups who have contributed in the past,” said William Luster of the Jaycees. “Our goal is to ensure that no child in Natchitoches Parish goes without a toy on Christmas Day.”
Last year the organization registered, collected, sorted and distributed Christmas toys to 417 kids, age 0-10, for 210 Natchitoches Parish families. To register your child to receive presents, visit Dr. Hogg’s office at 615 Bienville St. until the Monday after the toy drive. Dec. 14. Toy pickup for families will be the next day, Tuesday, Dec. 15, at First United Methodist Church’s gym.
This year’s toy drive event will have safety precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, including social distancing, masks and good ventilation in the collection tent. MASH is a 501c nonprofit. Donations are tax deductible and can be made in person at the toy drive or at https://www.natchitochesjaycees.com/mash.