By Chenier Reynolds
Access Health Louisiana (AHL) is helping spread holiday cheer to hundreds of children living in St. Charles Parish.
Free toys will be given out to every child attending their first annual “Jingle Bell Bash” on Friday, Dec. 15. AHL teamed up with Toys for Tots and United Way of St. Charles to make the event possible.
“By teaming up with these two great organizations, we will be able to reach more families and impact them in a very positive way,” said AHL Community Liaison Vondel Sylvan. “Healthy Louisiana Medicaid plans donated money to help purchase toys for the free giveaway and Valero is generously preparing jambalaya for families attending the event.” Kids will also be able to play outside in game trucks provided by United Way of St. Charles Parish.
“Events like the toy giveaway are just one of the many things we do throughout the year to help further our mission of improving the health and well-being of our community,” says AHL vice president of Support Ronald Johnson.
Johnson, a 26-year veteran and Master Sergeant of the U.S. Marine Corps, worked with the Toys for Tots program during his military career and continues the tradition now with AHL. “To see a smile from a child who thought they wouldn’t get any toys is the greatest gift.”
Johnson and his team used monetary donations from different organizations to purchase additional toys for the holiday event.
They recently made a trip to the new “Five Below” store at Elmwood Shopping Center to purchase toys.
They filled their newly updated mobile unit with everything from art kits, remote controlled cars, lava lamps and stuffed emoji pillows to skateboards and soccer balls.
“The management at Five Below was more than happy to help us out,” says AHL Vice President of Operations James Comeaux. “With everything in the store costing $5 or less, we were able to stretch our dollars to help buy more toys for more kids.”
The nonprofit organization has a strong foothold in St. Charles Parish.
AHL has been operating the St. Charles Community Health Centers in Luling and Norco for more than a decade.
Both are federally qualified health centers which means that patients are seen regardless of their ability to pay.
Both health centers offer Primary Care for Adults and Pediatrics, Behavioral Health and Dental.
AHL will also open its new Pharmacy based out of the flagship Luling clinic in January.
“Being there for the community we serve with toys at Christmas is so important,” continues Johnson, “and we continue that support throughout the year in helping them with their healthcare needs.” AHL is hoping for a big turnout at the toy giveaway.
The free event takes place from 4:30 – 7 p.m. at the St. Charles Community Health Center located at 16004 River Road in Norco.
For those who can’t attend the Norco event, a second toy giveaway is planned for Saturday, Dec. 16 at AHL’s Kenner Community Health Center inside the Esplanade Mall.
For more information, log onto accesshealthla.org or call 1-866-530-6111.