During the Annual Christmas Program, members of the Livingston Volunteers for Family & Community (LVFC) gathered at Bethel Baptist Church for some fun and fellowship.

This annual event generates much excitement among the four LVFC Clubs: Albany, Can Do’s, Lady Bugs, and Port Vincent. The mission of LVFC is to strengthen individuals, families, and communities through education, leadership, and action.

More than 75 citizens make up the four clubs. Each club meets monthly to discuss old and new business as well as to plan and coordinate service projects for the parish. The members who make up these four clubs give so much of their time and talents to lift up their communities.

Every year, one club hosts the Annual Christmas Program — a day filled with festivities and “giving back.”

The Lady Bugs hosted the 2017 event. Their theme — O’ Christmas Tree Let Us Gather Around Thee — was carried out with decorated Christmas trees, Christmas decorations and handmade fabric Christmas trees that were used as table decorations and given as door prizes.

Lady Bugs President Madeline Maehren welcomed those in attendance while Donna Bencaz, Lady Bugs vice president, led the Club Collect and Pledge of Allegiance.

Not only is the annual event filled with celebration, it is also an event of giving back. The members brought toys to donate to Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard’s Christmas Crusade, and officers from the Sheriff’s Office were on hand to receive the abundance of toys. Captain Hayden Brown shared with the group how and when the toys are distributed throughout Livingston Parish.

Also on hand was Connie Caldwell, the development director for Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge. Each year, Cancer Services is invited to attend the LVFC Christmas Program and receive a monetary donation on behalf of the LVFC members.

Caldwell shared with the group the children’s programs at Cancer Services and how donations like theirs are used for families living with cancer. Caldwell was presented with more than $1,400 in donations from the four clubs. The clubs raise money all year by hosting basket raffles, quilt raffles, plant sales, and collecting personal donations with this one day in mind.

After the blessing led by Lady Bug member Marcelle Rayner, the members enjoyed a delicious meal and tasty desserts. For entertainment, members of the Lady Bugs presented the history of the Christmas tree.

A highlight of each Christmas Program is the gift exchange. Members who choose to participate bring a wrapped gift to the program. This year, members participated in “The Right Night Before Christmas.” Marie Labello, a Can Do member, led the activity, which had those with gifts passing gifts to the left and to the right depending on what the story told them to do. What fun the members had with this activity.

Next came a sing along with Matt Calhoun of First Baptist Church of Denham Springs. What better way to get the members in the Christmas spirit than to have a sing along. It was perhaps the highlight of the day.

The Lady Bugs did a fantastic job of entertaining the Livingston Volunteers for Family & Community. The event was a great success.

If you are interested in joining the Livingston Volunteers for Family & Community, contact Layne Langley at 225-686-3020. For nutrition information or information about nutrition programs in the parish, contact Layne Langley, LSU AgCenter Agent at 225-686-3020 or at lalangley@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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