Be a Cenla Santa!


For many of us, the arrival of December brings with it the excitement of the holiday season. The sights and smells bring back warm memories of years past and eager expectation for time spent with friends and family. For some of our neighbors, however, the holiday season can bring with it additional challenges in the form of additional financial and emotional stressors that can take all the magic out of this time of year. If you are able, please consider helping those in need this holiday season. Gifts and gestures, both big and small, can go a long way toward brightening the lives of those in our community who could use it the most when you become a Cenla Santa!

Be a Cenla Santa!“You know it’s the start of the holiday season when you hear the Salvation Army kettle bells ring,” says Major Bill Shafer of the Salvation Army of Alexandria. The Red Kettle Campaign is especially needed now to meet the increasing needs of families living right here in Cenla and across the United States. The Salvation Army, the nation’s largest private provider of social services, will not stop working to provide Christmas gifts, food, shelter, and rent and utility assistance to millions of people struggling this holiday season and beyond—no matter the cost. Funds raised in 2022 supported services for nearly 24 million people living in America.

For many in our community, the worries of providing basic needs for themselves or their families make the joys of Christmas out of reach. When you extend your generosity to The Salvation Army of Alexandria, you are not only ensuring food security for the hungry and offering safe shelter to those without homes, but also bringing the miracle of Christmas morning to our neighbors in need.

Be a Cenla Santa!In addition to receiving donations at the Red Kettles across the community, the Salvation Army also spreads holiday cheer through a number of other programs. The Angel Tree helps area children celebrate the Christmas holidays by receiving clothing and toys from a wish list.  The Salvation Army also helps to fight food insecurity by providing food boxes with essentials for individuals and families. In addition, families can receive assistance that may help them remain in their homes through Christmas in the midst of additional expenses.

Please help our community this holiday season and beyond to provide relief and hope to our neighbors in need. The following options are available for those wishing to donate to the Salvation Army:

  • Donate with cash, coins, checks, or digitally with Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, and Venmo, at any Red Kettle across the country.
  • Provide Christmas gifts to children of local families in need through The Salvation Army Angel Tree. You can also contact the Alexandria Salvation Army at (318) 442-0445 about volunteering to distribute donated Angel Tree gifts.
  • Call (318) 442-0445 to sign up to volunteer at a Red Kettle.
  • Ask Amazon’s Alexa to donate by saying, “Alexa, donate to The Salvation Army,” and then specifying the amount.
  • Sign up for a sustaining gift of $25.00 a month at
  • Give any amount by texting “KETTLES” to 51555.

Be a Cenla Santa!Members of the Rotary Club of Alexandria will make the holiday season a little brighter for local children who might otherwise not get any presents this Christmas. They will conduct the club’s largest service project of the year, the annual Doll & Toy Fund distribution from 8:00am until 11:00am on Saturday, December 16th, at Alexandria City Hall Convention Center in downtown Alexandria. The Doll and Toy Fund sends invitations to needy families with children who are 12 years of age and under to attend. The Rotary Club of Alexandria’s Doll & Toy Fund committee is working with a number of local non-profit organizations and service agencies to identify families and children in need this year to invite.

On the day of the event, City Hall will be decorated with holiday cheer and Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there, too! In addition to toys and tech items, they have obtained books from the United Way, gift cards from local restaurants, fleece blankets, and toiletry kits will go to the first 500 families who attend.

If you would like to make a donation to the Doll and Toy Fund to help needy families in our area enjoy the holidays, please send a check made out to Doll and Toy Fund to: Rotary Club of Alexandria, P.O. Box 12306, Alexandria, LA 71315. You may also CLICK HERE to pay with a credit card. Please indicate how you would like your donation listed and if it is in memory or in honor of someone.

For more information, contact this year’s Doll and Toy Chair, Jim Smilie, at (318) 730-1683.

Be a Cenla Santa!Spending the holidays in the hospital can be extremely difficult for patients and families. Even more so, when you consider that approximately 60% of the children come from low socioeconomic homes. Help CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital make the season special for them.

When you donate to the Tinsel Toy Drive, every dollar raised goes to providing hand-picked holiday gifts for local pediatric patients in CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital’s NICU, Pediatric Unit, 17 School-Based Health Clinics, and Pediatric Therapy Center. The team at the Cabrini Foundation will make sure each child has a special holiday surprise to fit their individual needs. 100% of the funds raised by the Cabrini Foundation stay local, helping to make a difference in Central Louisiana. Help lift up these families this holiday season, and make sure all they have to worry about is a swift recovery!

Be a Cenla Santa!The CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Foundation partners with area families, individuals and businesses to create exemplary healthcare for Central Louisiana. The Foundation provides an opportunity for a donor to give to an area of the Hospital where they would like to make the most impact. Areas of support through the philanthropy efforts include the Children’s Miracle Network, Cancer Center, Heart Center, Nursing Scholarship Program, educational programs, mental health and prevention, and wellness programs. The Foundation oversees all philanthropic efforts of CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital.

If you would like to contribute physical toys, or see what types of toys/items will be purchased, please visit the Tinsel Toy Drive Amazon Wish List. All orders will be shipped directly to CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital. For more information on how you can make a difference for a child spending the holidays in the hospital, contact the CHRISTUS Cabrini Foundation at (318) 448-6580.

Be a Cenla Santa!Make an impact this holiday season by giving back to those impacted by numerous hardships—physical, emotional, and financial burdens through CLASS: Healthy Living for All, including those individuals and families impacted by HIV/AIDS. The holidays can make these hardships especially difficult and often result in periods of despair and loneliness. The CLASS Holiday Wishes program makes some of the wishes of disadvantaged families and individuals come true.

CLASS, Healthy Living for All is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) community-based organization headquartered in Alexandria. For more than thirty years, CLASS has been dedicated exclusively to the creation of a more equitable Louisiana through the provision of services designed to foster collaboration, eliminate barriers, and meet the needs of the people they serve. What originated as a collective of volunteers supporting people living with HIV and their loved ones has evolved into a robust network serving all of the Louisiana Department of Health Region VI’s nearly 7,000 square miles, including Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, LaSalle, Rapides, Vernon, and Winn Parishes.

Be a Cenla Santa!Although CLASS has grown, the conditions under which CLASS was originally established still exist. As such, the mission remains the same: to improve the quality of life of all people by promoting access to inclusive and affirming education, healthcare, and supportive services. Community support and assistance can help CLASS accomplish these worthwhile goals. CLASS invites you to participate in the 2023 Holiday Wishes program by making gift or financial contributions by Friday, December 15th. Monetary donations are accepted and are tax deductible.

CLASS Holiday Wishes is also seeking volunteers to serve as Secret Santas for this year’s program. To participate, call CLASS at (318) 442-1010, email [email protected], or visit Together, we can make sure Holiday Wishes come true!

Be a Cenla Santa!As the festivities of the holiday season begin, Cenla residents can participate in the “Be a Santa to a Senior” program and share joy by giving a gift to older adults in the community who may not have anyone to celebrate with. “The holidays can be hard for many older adults, especially those who may not have a companion to share them with,” said Kasandra Potito, owner of the Alexandria Home Instead office. “Through ‘Be a Santa to a Senior,’ we can help these seniors experience the happiness and togetherness the season can bring.”

This year, program coordinators hope to reach more seniors than last year by collecting gifts for 400 local older adults. To participate, shoppers can visit the “Be a Santa to a Senior” tree on display at the Home Instead office, 4012 Parliament Drive, Alexandria, 71303. Ornaments featuring the name and desired gift of an older adult will be on display, and shoppers can buy the requested gift and return it in a gift bag to the location with the ornament attached. Ornaments will be available through December 8th. The gifts will be delivered to local older adults in time for the holidays.

“Gifts aside, the true value comes in the connection ‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ makes between the community and our older neighbors,” said Potito. “Be a Santa to a Senior” is a true community program. The Home Instead office serving Alexandria has partnered with local businesses, non-profit organizations, volunteers, and members of the community to help with gift collection and distribution. For more information, visit

Be a Cenla Santa!Let’s not forget the seniors who live in assisted and skilled nursing facilities this year, many of whom will have to spend the holidays away from their loved ones. A great family or social organization project for the holidays is to create holiday cards to deliver to local nursing homes along with small gifts. The residents will be delighted to receive your thoughtful treats, and perhaps even more so, your visit. Before you visit, reach out to the case manager or community liaison at the facility or facilities you intend to visit. These professionals are an invaluable resource in providing insight into what gifts, such as blankets, socks, pajamas, activity books, etc., are most appropriate for the residents in their care.

However you choose to reach out this year, know that your efforts make a difference. So, don your red stocking cap, put on a smile and become a Cenla Santa this holiday season!