Tears of joy and plenty of hugs were shared early Christmas morning across St. Tammany and Washington parishes, as hundreds of volunteers delivered meals to needy families as part of an initiative to fight hunger.

The 17th annual Feeding the Needy program, led by the Covington Rotary Club, provided 1,528 food boxes containing complete meals of cooked turkey with all the trimmings to disadvantaged families. Monetary and in-kind donations of food and services from numerous businesses, individuals, organizations and churches make the initiative possible. Some donations even come from out of state.

Volunteers met at St. Paul’s School cafeteria in Covington on Dec. 23-24 to unload and organize food and supplies and to assemble the food boxes. Volunteers also helped throughout December to process applications for the families in need; most applications were initiated through the Northshore Food Bank in Covington, but they also came through churches, schools, police stations and charitable organizations. 

The program was started in 2002 by John Baldwin and Craig Babylon in cooperation with the Covington Food Bank — now the Northshore Food Bank — and that year helped to feed more than 300 people. Since then the program has grown, providing more than 6,000 people with Christmas dinner.

“It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. You can tell there’s a true need,” Baldwin said.

According to Baldwin, one in every six families in St. Tammany and one in every five families in Washington Parish have children that go to bed hungry. 

He's overwhelmed with the generosity of the community, with their contributions and giving of their time at the holidays. “For kids, it’s a real reality check,” he said. “There’s so many people that need help.”

For more information about Feeding the Needy or the Covington Rotary Club, visit covrotary.org.

Dual reunion is festive fun

Hundreds of alumni from St. Paul’s School and St. Scholastica Academy in Covington shared memories, music, food and cocktails during the SSA and SPS alumni Christmas on Columbia on Dec. 26.

The annual event was held at Columbia Street Tap Room’s Seiler Bar and Patio in Downtown Covington. Some guests were local, but others traveled in from out of town to reconnect with their Catholic school friends. An alumni band entertained.

“It’s a new take on an old tradition,” said Al Nastasi, SPS alumni director. The reunion started many years ago at the former Friends Restaurant in Madisonville, faded out and then was reorganized in 2013. Guests this year ranged in age, with graduation years from the 1960s through 2015.

Donna Wallace, SSA advancement director, said the event is about keeping the alumni connected with their schools as they become benefactors to future generations of students. “It’s about community building,” she said.

Also on hand were Cissy LaForge, SSA president, and Elizabeth Stokes, SSA Alumnae Association president.

For more information about the SPS and SSA alumni associations, visit stpauls.com/alumni and ssacad.org/page/alumnae.