Most little girl sleepovers involve painting nails, singing karaoke, or watching movies, but for six childhood friends in Delcambre the conversation at a slumber party turned to the subject of “people who stand on the side of the road holding signs that ask for money.” As they thought longer about it, they wondered how they could help those people in need. And, before going to bed that night, they made hand-written signs that they planned to use the very next day to collect money for the poor.
The mothers thought it a joke at first, but seeing the girls were serious, they stood with them on the side of the main highway in Delcambre and collected $135 that day – including one $100 donation. That was the moment their hearts were sparked to give.
The following weekend, the group, took the money to the Women’s Shelter in New Iberia and surprised seven women there with $20 each - along with inspirational cards. “They were in tears with gratitude and hugged our girls,” says Krystal Olivier, Bella’s mother. “It was an eye-opener for us, as parents, to see the openness and kindness toward the girls.”
Soon after that experience, the group of 8 and 9 year olds comprised of Paityn Viator, Bella Olivier, Jorrie Vital, Carley Evans and Nola Simon became known as The Little Ladies Society.
Since 2017, the Little Ladies, with the help of some parents, have helped organize food drives, clothing and backpack drives, car and craft shows, bingos and other fundraisers for the benefit of those less fortunate.
For two years, the girls have enjoyed the feeling of giving, particularly at Christmas when they are reminded most that not every child is as fortunate as they are. They say the holiday becomes more meaningful to them as they deliver gifts, toys and clothing to children from Breaux Bridge to Kaplan and New Iberia to Lafayette – gifting just under 40 families last year.
Last June felt like Christmas for one Delcambre man whose stolen bike, his only means of transportation, was replaced with a new one by the Little Ladies, Krystal and Beth.
The girls are winning hearts at area nursing homes as well where they play bingo and visit with seniors, bringing them simple items, like socks, ice cream, scarfs and cologne, from residents’ wish lists.
In the process of giving, the Little Ladies are learning that responding to people in need isn’t always enough; their parents are teaching them to be aware of people in need. In late June, while driving on Hwy. 14, Krystal noticed a man who seemed to be living under the overpass. After seeing him a second time, she stopped and spoke with the 45-year-old, hearing the story of how he became homeless. As soon as she returned to her car, she called Beth Viator, Paityn’s mom, and said they needed to help him. Beth went shopping for a tent, sleeping bag, bug spray, canned foods, drinks, fresh food and a few other staples and, with their girls, brought them to the man that night. (Both of the women work, so most of the errands are done on their lunch hour, after work or on weekends.) With permission, they posted the story on Facebook so others might feel compelled to send donations – and they did. Bella and Paityn helped deliver the donations sent in and met the grateful man.
Krystal washed his clothes and the women soon helped place him in a hotel for a short while. Recently, the ladies heard that he has found a place to live.
“We had no idea when the girls first came to us with the signs two years ago that it would go this far. It shows that a little bit of kindness and an open heart can go a long way,” Beth says.
Now families in need reach out to the Little Ladies Society online.
Girls interested in joining the Little Ladies Society can call Beth Viator at 337-577-6793.