Food bank helps those ‘just like us’

Eden Gorney can’t help crying when she talks about her first days at the Samaritan Center in Mandeville. She can’t help it, she says, because her first days at the Samaritan Center changed the way she thought about the needy in western St. Tammany Parish.

After she finished reading the volunteer handbook, she said, food bank program coordinator Amy Ettinger told her, “Now we’re going to bless these people and give them their baskets.”

“Well, we brought the basket out to the front, and I knew the lady” waiting to get her food, Gorney said. “It was such an eye-opener. … These are people in our community, people just like us” who, for whatever reason, need help feeding their families. “I just kept telling her, ‘It’s going to get better.’ ”

Gorney has continued to volunteer faithfully in the Samaritan Center’s food bank the past two years, sorting food and giving out baskets. On Dec. 9, she was honored for her dedication when she received the Lindy Boggs Hunger Awareness Award during the annual Bread for the World Hunger Awareness Award Meal at Loyola University in New Orleans.

Gorney is a tireless recruiter for the Samaritan Center. After getting hooked as a volunteer, the former businesswoman made phone calls and sent emails to her many community contacts, spreading the word about the urgent needs that people in St. Tammany face.

This year, she also recruited new volunteer families to help with the Samaritan Center’s school supply giveaway.

Although she is certainly honored by the award, Gorney said she is also humbled.

“Others do so much more than I do,” she said. “I accepted it happily because it came with a grant for the Samaritan Center, and it is great publicity” for the ministry, which includes not only the food bank but also Gran’s Attic resale shop. The Samaritan Center also assists those in need in many other ways.

“They offer rent assistance, and other things to people in dire straits,” including offering tents to the homeless so they can stay in Fontainebleau State Park, Gorney said.

“I see so much good here,” Gorney said, offering a litany of heartwarming stories.

For instance, there was the man who came in and handed over $100, saying, “I want to bless a family.” Then there was the doctor who showed up with a jar full of money when he heard someone had stolen a similar jar from the Samaritan Center. Then there are the people who line up to be blessed with food. The true blessing, Gorney said, is for the volunteers.

“I get so much out of it,” she said. “It is a real blessing to me. This community is so generous.”

The Samaritan Center food bank is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, by appointment only. The center is at 402 Girod St. in Mandeville. Call (985) 626-4457 for more information, or visit http://www.samcen.org.

Youth soccer registration

The Covington Youth Soccer Association is registering boys and girls ages 5 to 12 for the spring season. Online registration is available at http://www.covingtonsoccer.com. Games begin Feb. 2.

Parish Livestock Show

The St. Tammany Parish Jr. Livestock Show will begin at 8 a.m. Friday at the St. Tammany Parish Fairgrounds in Covington. There are 150 youth showing livestock projects from around the parish. These projects include beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, goats, swine, chickens and rabbits totaling more than 450 animals.

The livestock project teaches responsibility, character development, and self-confidence through a “learn by doing” approach.

On Saturday, the Livestock Auction will take place beginning with a buyers dinner at 4 p.m. and sale at 6 p.m. The parish fairgrounds are located on North U.S. 190, just north of the Claiborne Hill overpass in Covington.

Genealogy at the library

The Covington branch library, 310 W. 21st Ave., will present “Proving Your Ancestry: A Case Study of One St. Tammany Family,” on Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to noon. The presenter is Marguerite Scully.

Using her ongoing research as a case study, Scully will provide program participants with examples of how to verify their ancestry through record search and analysis, as well as how to analyze the records they have already found.

Participants will also learn about records at libraries, archives and courthouses that might be of value to their research.

Scully is a member of the Board of Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Society, as well as a member of the St. Tammany Genealogical Society. She has been a genealogical researcher for more than 20 years. The event is free but registration is recommended and space is limited to 50 adults. To register, call the Covington branch at (985) 893-6280. Visit http://www.sttammanylibrary.org for more library news.

After Eve, let’s clean up

Keep Mandeville Beautiful wants everyone to keep the green in purple, green and gold this carnival season by making a special effort to clean up after the Krewe of Eve Mandeville parade.

Be a part of the Krewe of Green by volunteering to participate in a route cleanup from 9 to 11 a.m. Feb. 2.

Keep Mandeville Beautiful will organize cleanups along the East and West Causeway Approaches on the Saturday morning following the Krewe of Eve. Students can earn community service hours. To volunteer, call (985) 624-3165 or email kmb@cityofmande
ville.com.

Rotary Club scholarships

The Northlake-Mandeville Rotary Club will award two $10,000 college scholarships to area high school seniors this year.

Applications are available from senior guidance counselors and at http://www.Mande
villeRotary.org.

Karen Baker writes about St. Tammany people, places and events for The Advocate. Send information to her at
sliceoftammany@gmail.com.