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Rowan Hull, from left, Parker Marcotte, Brooke Marcotte and Thomas Hull during last year’s free garage event. Brooke Marcotte, along with members of her Facebook group, Acadian Acres New Iberia, wanted to create an event to help give back to the community. They all pulled together donated items to give away for free.

By Aaron Gonsoulin

The daily iberian

An idea sparked by her son in December of 2018 soon turned into a project that hits very close to home for Brooke Marcotte.

A Franklin native, Marcotte witnessed countless acts of generosity from members of her community — acts that she wanted to perpetuate.

Back on that fateful day in 2018, Marcotte was cleaning out her son’s room and she came across old toys of his.

Knowing that he would get new ones in a couple of weeks when Santa passed, she wanted to find a good home for them.

As she sat in her son’s room, she soon realized that others in her area were probably going to do the same.

A call to action from her neighborhood

She then posted in her FaceBook group, Acadian Acres New Iberia, asking others if they’d be willing to come together and do something special for people in need at the time.

“I asked if they’d be interested in putting all of our stuff together in one spot and just having a free garage event,” Marcotte said

Marcotte and her Facebook group started a free garage event, and while dropping off their donations, people were able to browse the items to see if there was anything they might need for themselves or their families; if so, they would be able to take it free of charge.

After the free garage events are over, if there were any donations leftover, Marcotte and other members of the group would bring the remaining items to donate to a local organization.

With tables set up at her house, Marcotte has various stations of different donated items.

“We usually spread it out, because not every organization needs everything,” Marcotte said. “Some organizations may need clothes, some may take toys for children. So we spread it out that way.”

So far, the group have donated to local organizations including Chez Hope, St. Francis Dinner, the Unexpected Pregnancy Center and the Iberia Homeless Shelter.

From toys to clothes to shoes and dishes, even a couch, the group takes whatever it can to give to those who need it.

“Anything,” Marcotte said. “We take anything.”

The free garage event is held twice a year, once in the spring and once in December, usually before Christmas.

Others willing to lend a helping hand

People regularly contact Marcotte to ask if the group can take their donations so she can help hand them out to others in need.

“So like when people do their spring cleaning, they contact me and say, ‘I have all this stuff, do you want it,’ and I say ‘Sure we can use it for our garage event,’” Marcotte said. “And it’s the same thing right before Christmas again, and this time it’s usually a whole lot of toys.”

Marcotte and her neighbors do their best to be discreet, but if they know someone who is in need of donations at the time of their garage events, the group wants them to come and take whatever they need.

Anyone can donate to their cause if they want, Marcotte said. Elected officials have, in the past, also participated in the garage event.

Marcotte credits how generous her neighborhood is, as it is not the first event they have done together. From a welcome back party for the New Iberia Police Department to an Easter Egg hunt, the area comes together.

Though she loves to see everyone giving back, Marcotte still is shocked to see so many be so giving.

A family atmosphere

“It’s like we are a community within a community, it’s hard to explain,” Marcotte said. “It’s one big family in this neighborhood.”

The group had planned its annual spring event today, but had to postpone it until a later date because of COVID-19 restrictions and health concerns.

Marcotte, a resident of New Iberia, is a nurse, specializing in sleep medicine, testing people for a sleep disorder.

Married and the mother of one, she is considered the neighborhood watch chair for her group.

Coming this fall, Marcotte is running for City Council District 1. Her father, Kenny P. Scelfo Sr., a city councilman and mayor pro tempore in Franklin, and city councilman for 16 years, raised her to give back to the community she calls home.

Like father, like daughter

“It just feels natural to volunteer my time and give back,” Marcotte said.

While attending events around the area, Marcotte would watch her dad and how much he loved giving back, a trait that is instilled in her to this day.

“It helps people out that are in need, it makes them happy,” Marcotte said. “I really like doing that.”

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