, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

December 23, 2011

Holly Days brings holiday cheer

PORT ARTHUR — Holly Days and Jingle Bear are making Christmas a bit merrier for the needy in the area thanks to the generosity of others.

The Holly Days fund drive, which is a partnership between the Port Arthur News, Rotary Club of Port Arthur and the Retail Merchants Association, is in its 23rd year of raising funds, which are distributed to agencies in Mid- and South Jefferson County that address the basic needs of individuals.

The holiday cheer began with the singing of “White Christmas” followed by a plentiful meal during the Rotary Club of Port Arthur’s meeting on Thursday at Holiday Inn.

 Roger Cowles, editor of the Port Arthur News, then stepped up to the podium and told the crowd about the Holly Days fund drive and its goal to help those agencies that provide the most basic needs in the community.

“It’s a blessing,” Capt. Ed Cheshire of the Salvation Army said in reference to the $2,000 check he received for the Salvation Army. “This is my first time here in Port Arthur, and I really wasn’t expecting it. This was a surprise to me.”

Cheshire, along with wife and fellow Salvation Army captain Terrie, took command of the Port Arthur location, at 3145 25th St., in June. This is the third post for the couple, who started in Plainview in North Texas, then served in Big Springs.

Cheshire said some of the funds will go toward their Christmas effort but primarily will be used in the new year to help people with food and utility assistance.

“It’s hard to have a merry Christmas without your lights on,” he said.

Juanita Hockett of Catholic Charities stood in for her sister, Christina Green, to accept a $1,000 check. Green is director of the Hospitality Center, a facility that feeds the hungry 365 days a year.

“The funds will go to help provide daily meals at the Hospitality Center,” Hockett said. The Hospitality Center will have been open for 24 years on Christmas Day. “It feels great to receive the funds for the center; it will go to good use.”

Hockett said the center, at 3959 Gulfway Drive, is in need of volunteers — cooks and drivers.

Mike Deasy of Golden Triangle Assistance Ministries, at 150 FM 365, received a check for $1,000 for the organization.

Each month the ministry feeds about 400 families who, without the assistance, might go hungry.

Deasy learned, through Port Arthur ISD statistics, that 89 percent of the district is living at poverty level or below. That translates to eight out of 10 children going to bed hungry at night.

“This is intolerable in a society as rich and prosperous as ours,” Deasy said. “It is not the government’s job to meet this need even with the existing programs. Jesus said ‘Feed the hungry.’ We are trying to be doers of the Word.”

The ministry assists the needy from Fannett to Port Arthur, Groves to Winnie, he said.

Other agencies receiving assistance included Community Care Prayer Outreach, $2,000, and Port Cities Rescue Mission, $1,000.

Port Cities Rescue Mission in downtown Port Arthur assists the homeless, while Community Care Prayer Outreach, at 808 Nederland Ave., in Nederland, provides social services including help with food.

The Holly Days fund drive will continue until Jan. 1 and another distribution will be made after the first of the year. Cowles asked for help in pushing the fund drive past the $10,000 mark before New Year’s Day.

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