Holly Days returns to help local families during holidays

Published 12:30 am Saturday, November 25, 2023

Now in its 35th year, The Port Arthur News and The Rotary Club of Port Arthur’s Holly Days fundraiser is beginning to raise money for a multitude of Port Arthur and Mid County nonprofits.

Created in 1988 as a partnership between The Port Arthur News and The Rotary Club of Port Arthur, Holly Days has raised more than $330,000 to assist local families in need.

Rotary is a global network of 1.4 million neighbors, friends, leaders and problem solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change. For more than 110 years, Rotary’s people of action have used their passion, energy, and intelligence to take action on sustainable projects.

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Rotary members believe in a shared responsibility to take action on the world’s most persistent issues. More than 46,000 clubs work together to promote peace, fight disease, provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene, save mothers and children, support education, grow local economies and protect the environment.

(Courtesy photo)

The mission is to provide service to others, promote integrity and advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through a fellowship of business, professional and community leaders.

That global mission is applied in Port Arthur through Holly Days.

“For years Holly Days has provided needed resources to support our local community’s needs, in the true spirit of Rotary’s motto – Service Above Self,” said Dana M. Espinal, Rotary Club of Port Arthur president. “I believe Port Arthur illustrates the importance of how impactful one idea, back in 1988, has brought so many together for the good of our community.”

Last year’s receiving organizations included:

  • Salvation Army — Mid & South Jefferson County Chapter
  • The Hospitality Center of Port Arthur, operated by Catholic Charities
  • Community Care Prayer Outreach
  • United Board of Missions
  • Capland Speech Therapy Center
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates of Southeast Texas (CASA)
  • Samaritan Counseling Center
  • LSCPA Seahawk Food Pantry
  • Sleep in Heavenly Peace
  • Step Up – Speak Out

Chosen nonprofits will apply for funding in January and will be awarded and presented in February at The Port Arthur News office on Memorial Boulevard.

The funding is awarded at the beginning of the next year, giving individuals and companies an opportunity to donate by Dec. 31 each year.

The name of those who donate $1 or more will appear in The Port Arthur News. Those who donate $1,000 or more will be added to The Platinum Club and named in the fund box every day through New Year’s Day when the fundraiser ends.

“Community journalism works at its best when informing the public to local need and connecting those who can help with those who do help,” said Stephen Hemelt, publisher of the Port Arthur News.  “The Holly Days fundraiser is a perfect example of people in action. Our community is blessed with many who are passionate about giving back.  Any support this effort receives is immediately invested back into our community.”

The contribution box runs in each Port Arthur News edition beginning Wednesday.

Other community service projects from the Rotary Club of Port Arthur include providing boxed Thanksgiving dinners to more than 150 families, providing dictionaries to 850 third grade students in Port Arthur and assisting the Port Arthur Health Department purchase infant carriers for new mothers in need.

Rotary recently awarded 23 scholarships totaling $16,750.00 to students in Port Arthur represented by 5 local high schools through a competitive scholarship application process.

The Taste of Gumbo Fundraiser raised money to support the 22 scholarships awarded from the Port Arthur Rotary Club. The 2023 event is scheduled Feb. 17 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bob Bowers Civic Center.

Tickets are on sale for $10 and can be purchased from Rotarians or at the door.

“We have a strong tradition of providing this annual fundraiser and the tradition is continuing in 2024,” President-Elect “King Gumbo” Dr. Jesus Acosta said.

Any donation to Holly Days are tax deductible, through the Port Arthur Rotary Foundation, founded in 2022.

Make your contribution before Dec. 31 to take advantage of this donation for this year.

Those in need of a donation receipt letter for tax purposes can Espinal at 409-984-6530.

Holly Days History

Late Rotarian Ray Depwe had the idea of creating the fundraiser, which he brought to two fellow Rotarians — then-Port Arthur News Editor Dub Brown and Retail Merchants Association Director Floyd Marceaux.  Brown began publicizing the drive while Marceaux provided administrative services.

All contributions should be mailed to:  Holly Day Fund Project, Rotary Club of Port Arthur, P.O. Box 77, Port Arthur, Texas 77641 or can be dropped off at Brammer, Begnaud & Lattimore, CPAs, PLLC, 3240 Central Mall Drive, Port Arthur, Texas 77642, ATTN:  David Lattimore, CPA.

The logo depicts a child and her toy, Jingle Bear, in front of the Rotary Wheel, which has been the club’s logo since 1905.