Everyday heroes: Carnival lights up special needs attendees
Published 12:00 am Friday, October 31, 2014
VIDALIA — Halloween came early for the clients of Brandi’s Hope thanks to several members of the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The CPSO hosted a unique Halloween carnival Thursday for clients of Brandi’s Hope, a community service organization that helps people with developmental disabilities.
The event took place in the parking lot of the CPSO, where those with special needs were given the opportunity to participate in face painting, games and go on hayrides around the facility.
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Donna Jones, CPSO fiscal officer and sheriff’s assistant, was one of several CPSO employees who helped organized and work the event Thursday.
Jones took a break from her duties inside the sheriff’s office to don cat makeup and paint the faces of those with special needs who lined up in the parking lot.
Jones has also worked with several adults out of Brandi’s Hope in her pottery studio, Natchez Clay.
“They’re just the most fun loving, kind, sweet people you could ever meet,” Jones said. “We just love working with them.”
When the CPSO wanted to get in the Halloween spirit, Jones and others reached out to Brandi’s Hope, making the carnival specifically for people with special needs.
“It’s a smaller controllable group,” Jones said. “I imagine it’s going to grow each year.”
Jones said people with special needs should have the same opportunity as others.
“I feel they (people with special needs) need to be involved in activities that normal people or children take part in,” Jones said. “We try to give them a lot of normal opportunities, but making it in their own special setting allows us to make sure their needs are met.”
As Jones dolled Mercedes Colston up for Halloween, she reminded Colston how beautiful she looked with face paint.
“They just touch my heart,” Jones said. “They help me more than anything.”
CPSO Deputy Bobby Madison said he loved Jones efforts.
“Anything you need, she’s the backbone,” Madison said. “Just to put a smile on everyone’s face is a great feeling. We are going to try and make this an annual event.”
Jones said the carnival took about two weeks of preparation, which greatly paid off.
“Just to see them happy meant the world to me,” Jones said.
CPSO Chief Deputy David Hedrick was appreciative of the work Jones and other dedicated CPSO employees put in to make the carnival a success.
“This is just a special time for them (people with special needs),” Hedrick said. “Ms. Jones and everyone here has done a fabulous job, she’s done a lot for this organization and we’re proud to have her.”