DENHAM SPRINGS — Members of the Denham Springs High School club Jackets Against Destructive Decisions take matters of drugs, alcohol and texting and driving very seriously, but Saturday, the members tucked away their serious side to entertain children.
More than 35 teenagers from the organization and four adults gathered to spend about four hours with about 40 children — many in costumes for the pre-Halloween event — so their parents could enjoy an evening out.
“My children have attended these programs several times,” Denham Springs High School teacher and yearbook adviser Christy McMaster said. “They enjoy the activities, seeing their friends and meeting new people.”
“They feel comfortable and I know they are in a safe environment,” McMaster said.
The number of children who attended this Parents’ Night Out increased from past events, JADD sponsor Elise LeBlanc said.
“We had more sign up at the door than usual,” LeBlanc said, adding that the club expected about 30 children to attend.
The event, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., offered children a chance to participate in a variety of crafts and games. More importantly, JADD members taught the children about Halloween safety, LeBlanc said.
“We created trick-or-treat stations outside of the school,” LeBlanc said. The stations’ purpose was to teach children which houses they should visit and which ones they shouldn’t. “Some of the houses were well-lit and some were not,” LeBlanc said.
This is the first time JADD hosted a pre-Halloween Parents’ Night Out. The organization holds the event for Valentine’s Day and at other times throughout the year.
She said the Night Out event provides fun and interactive games for the children and is not just a baby-sitting service.
JADD members have hosted the Night Out about a half a dozen times, club sponsor Shannon Donze said.
Parents who dropped off their children paid $15 for the first child and $10 for each additional child.
“JADD uses the funds they raise to support programs such as their summer camps and to send students to the national Students Against Destructive Decisions conference each year,” McMaster said.
The Halloween event will help fund the students’ trip to leadership training, which will be held in Texas this summer.
“The kids who work it (the Parents’ Night Out) get money (for the trip), and if they recruit kids (for the Parents’ Night Out), they get more money,” LeBlanc said.
Past Parents’ Night Out events have funded members’ trips to SADD National Conferences.
The group received the 2013 SADD National Chapter of the Year award June 24 at the national conference in Orlando, Florida, and won SADD’s National Activity of the Year for its Protecting You, Protecting Me Summer Camp in Denham Springs the past few summers, LeBlanc said.
According to the school’s website, “SADD believes that young people can have fun, enjoy life and nurture positive personal relationships without the distraction and distortion of alcohol. SADD seeks to demonstrate positive and attractive alternatives to alcohol and other drug-infused activities for teenagers.”
“The main goal is to provide a community service,” LeBlanc said.
The next fundraising event — the largest held by JADD — is Breakfast With Santa. The event will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 6 at Denham Springs High School, 1000 N. Range Ave.