Season of Giving recipients share impacts in Port Arthur and beyond

Published 12:18 am Friday, November 10, 2023

There are a lot of happy tears shed by parents and volunteers when Share A Toy season comes around at United Board of Missions.

“Happy tears,” Director Debbie Perkins said. “Happy tears on the volunteers’ faces and happy tears for the recipients. It’s amazing. It’s bringing so much joy to our community.”

United Board of Missions is one of 41 local nonprofits receiving a grant through the Port Arthur LNG Season of Giving, which is run in partnership with Bechtel and Port Arthur Newsmedia.

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The special event was held at Gates Memorial Library on the Lamar State College Port Arthur campus.

Perkins explained the need is great. Last year they assisted 610 children, and this year that number increased to 750.

The demand is high, and the grant will give joy to so many, she said.

Sheri and Dr. Levy Barnes pose for a photo together. They represent Bethel Temple, which received a grant toward the purchase of toys for children. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Dr. Levy Barnes with Bethel Temple is using the grant received Thursday to purchase toys for his annual giveaway.

Barnes said every year his team purchases toys for 700 to 1,000 children from low income households. But the organization prefers to buy toys that are high quality, such as bikes, hoverboards and, even, drones.

The intent is to help families struggling during the holidays or just struggling, he said.

The 10th Annual Christmas with Dr. Levy is planned in December. The most rewarding part, he said, is seeing the children with their toys.

There have been families who have had their electricity turned off or are living in difficult situations.

“The question is what are you going to give. What are you contributing? It’s so easy to take, but when you can give, it’s even more of a blessing,” Barnes said.

Season of Giving grant recipients Amanda Diaz, left, and Kim Williams with Aaron Child & Family Ministries, and Shari Pulliam, with Texas Family Care Network, mingle before the start of Season of Giving on Thursday night. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Texas Family Care Network is another organization that received a grant during Season of Giving. The organization took over case management of foster care and adoption from the Texas Department of Family Protective Services, and this grant is being used for toys for children in foster care.

As a new, private organization, this is a big task, said Shari Pulliam, director of community engagement.

“It’s absolutely so exciting to be here to be recognized, one, and then to be able to have this extra money to be able to give to our children this Christmas and Christmas gifts,” Pulliam said.

There are 300 children in foster care in Jefferson County, another 200 in Orange County and 90 in Hardin County.

Kelly Prasser with Sempra Infrastructure/Port Arthur LNG told the crowded room that PA LNG funded $72,500 in grants and Bechtel contributed $27,500 bringing the total to $100,000.

Lon Smith, Bechtel’s Project manager for PA LNG, said he felt honored to be part of Season of Giving and the company strives to give back in a number of other ways, such as home repairs for seniors and toys for children in need.

Port Arthur News Publisher Stephen Hemelt remembers the first such gathering two years ago with a smaller number of people in attendance. Since then the grant amounts and number of recipients have grown.

“And that’s because of the people in this room who are making a difference in our community,” Hemelt said.