Jingle and Mingle, an outreach project of the Main Street Pilot’s Club, was born in response to adversity after the 2016 floods devastated the area. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic brought new hardships and restrictions that made community outreach even more of a challenge.

Undeterred, the jinglers donned masks and mingled from afar to make this year’s event a mobile success.

Pilot Club President Dawn Brewster said the group reenvisioned the outreach and partnered with others like the Lion’s Club, the chief of police and high school basketball players to meet needs and spread cheer in the drive-thru Jingle and Mingle. “Friday went off without a hitch,” Brewster said.

The group distributed 300 boxes of food, jambalaya dinners, turkeys, a pallet of Kleinpeter milk and more while Baker police officers directed several blocks of cars that circled the parking lot of the Baker Municipal Building.

Event coordinator Pauline North said an effort was made to stay safe and get community and business support.

“Each year we do a Jingle and Mingle, and this year, we had to think of a different way to do it, because usually the activities are on the inside,” she said. “So, we decided to go to the bank, Coca Cola and various other organizations to help donate turkeys and boxes of food to give to the citizens of Baker.

“We had Baker High School girls and boys basketball team this year. And they did an excellent job.”

Former president Gloria Johnson said that since the first Jingle and Mingle, they have increased the scope of the event. “We've had it indoors with Santa Claus and a meal and entertainment for the attendees,” she said. “Now with COVID, we figured that we would have to ‘reimagine’ because we couldn't go indoors. So, we came up with the drive-through idea and it worked."

The Main Street Pilot Club has been a part of Pilot International since 1967. Next year, the national organization will celebrate its 100th anniversary. At the heart of the group’s logo is a riverboat’s pilot wheel referencing the organization’s mission to provide service and guidance.

Pilot International Foundation (now the Pilot International Founders Fund) was established in 1975 to further Pilot’s humanitarian efforts, according to the group’s Web site. Since the Pilot International Founders Fund grant program began in 1977, nearly 1,500 grants totaling more than $1.5 million have been disbursed to Pilot Clubs.