LOREAUVILLE — The tiny village of Loreauville made a huge impression on the folks behind the Outdoor Happiness! Movement.
Shannon Rhodes presented a check for $20,000 to the Loreauville Community Project Tuesday afternoon, the 46th such check presented by McKee Foods starting in 2014, as part of a $1 million pledge to help one community in each project create, expand or improve an outdoor space.
“It’s a huge day for us,” Loreauville Mayor Brad Clifton said. Clifton also is one of the guiding forces for the Loreauville Community Project, which is aimed at raising funds for community improvement and to help other community groups and individuals raise needed funds.
OH! (the Outdoor Happiness Movement) has made 10 check presentations each year, finishing this year, to one project in each state. Loreauville may well be the smallest community to receive such a grant, Clifton said.
Rhodes explained that the movement is an extension of the McKee family’s efforts to fund projects that involve getting people outdoors to spend time getting fit or enjoy the company of others. The Outdoor Happiness! Movement is intended to encourage people to spend more time with family and friends outdoors.
McKee Foods makes Little Debbie snacks, as well as Sunbelt Bakery, Drake’s and Fieldstone brand products, emplying 6,000 people in Tennessee, Arkansas, Virginia and Arizona with field sales staffs covering all 50 states.
The first application the community project made for the grant was turned down, Clifton said.
“Obviously when a big company like that is going for 50 projects in 50 states, they’re going for the big boys,” he said Rhodes told the crowd before Tuesday’s Loreauville High home baseball game against Delcambre, where the check was presented. “They were shooting for Baton Rouge or New Orleans. So it was turned down. But when we sent the second application in and they saw how many kids use the park, especially during baseball season, they approved it. It’s huge for us, definitely.”
Nearly all of the members of the Loreauville Community Project were in attendance at Tuesday’s presentation, as was a good slice of the general population.
“We definitely did (have a good turnout),” Clifton said. “Loreauville responds. We know everybody’s got a busy schedule, especially on a Tuesday.”
Representatives from the Iberia Parish Parks and Recreation board including Loreauville representative Kavin Dressel were on hand for the presentation, as were several people who are running for office, Clifton said.
A board showing the plans for the park also was explained to those attending. Clifton said he had reached out to his cousin, Jeff Gonsoulin of Build Studio, for help with the plans, and he drew up the board including the actual equipment that the money will be used to purchase.
Clifton said Rhodes was shown the park and was impressed with how clean it was. The mayor told her of recent efforts connected with the Cleanest City competition that Loreauville is involved in this year, which also impressed her.
“We were able to show off to Miss Rhodes our community,” Clifton said.