Last year was interesting, that’s all I’ll say about that. It’s over, it’s done, and now we’re moving forward toward a future full of hope.

But before we look ahead to what’s in store in 2013, here’s one look back at something that made the last days of 2012 very special in the city of Slidell.

When it came time to think about their annual Christmas gift exchange, the employees of Slidell City Court decided that it really is better to give than to receive. And so, instead of giving gifts to each other at their annual holiday lunch, they brought in toys to donate to the Slidell Police Association’s Toys From Cops project.

“Like a lot of offices, we normally have an employee gift exchange. This year, our chief deputy clerks, Stephanie Crawford and Pamela Perkins, were put in charge and came up with the idea to change it so we’d be giving gifts to local kids instead,” said Clerk of Court Sherry Phillips.

“They got 100 percent participation immediately — from both the court staff as well as the city marshal’s staff. In the end, everyone who works in the building brought in toys for this.”

The organizers came up with their charitable idea before knowing which charity they would support, but in the end, they didn’t have to look far.

The police association, whose members work just across the street from the courthouse, was a perfect match, Phillips said.

“This is the Slidell Police Association’s second year doing Toys From Cops. Our goal is to reach out to the children of Slidell and bring smiles to their faces this Christmas season,” said Slidell Police Det. Luke Irwin, who is the senior vice president for the police association.

The association hosted several events in Slidell last month so that Santa and his elves could brighten the lives of underprivileged, ill or otherwise needy children.

And the Slidell City Court employees did their part in making sure those events were full of joy.

“It makes me proud to see another example of the quality of my employees. That they would forgo the gift exchange and volunteer to give gifts instead to children in this community … is heartwarming,” said Slidell City Court Judge Jim Lamz.

A tree for free

Now let’s look ahead to something coming up in Covington this month. On Jan. 19, Keep Covington Beautiful will celebrate Louisiana Arbor Day with its annual tree give-away at the Covington Farmers Market. The giveaway lasts from 8 a.m. until noon, or until the tree seedlings run out. The seedlings include a variety of native bare-root seedlings such as black walnut, cherry bark, crabapple mayhaw, red mulberry and rough-leaf dogwood, according to KCB director Priscilla Floca.

She adds that volunteers are needed to help wrap the seedlings and hand them out. If you are interested in lending a hand for the love of trees, email

To learn more about the many projects of Keep Covington Beautiful, visit the website at or call (985) 867-3652.

The Covington Farmers Market is located at 609 N. Columbia St., and is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon. There’s always plenty of fresh produce, homemade goodies and great music under the gazebo. And, of course, on Jan. 19, there will be tree seedlings — maybe I’ll pick up a seedling as a sign of hope for this new year.

Scholarship offered

Rep. Paul Hollis, of District 104, is accepting applications from students in his district interested in a Tulane University Legislative Scholarship for the 2013-14 school year.

Each member of the Louisiana Legislature is allotted one full scholarship to award each year.

The current scholarship recipient, Jason Ervin, of Lacombe, will graduate in May.

To be eligible, an applicant must be a permanent Louisiana resident and a graduate of a Louisiana high school. She or he must have a 28 composite ACT or 1870 combined SAT score.

To apply, interested students should visit and complete the university’s process by Jan. 15.

Students should also contact Hollis by Jan. 15 with a request for consideration.

The scholarship covers tuition and fees, and has an approximate value of $45,000 per year.

For more information, contact Hollis’ district office at (985) 871-4680.

Karen Baker writes about people and events in St. Tammany Parish. Send her information on news and events two weeks in advance to