Faith & Family: Artist hopes to make holidays special for children

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 14, 2015

Local artist Lorraine Griffin is passionate about art and Toys-for-Tots. (Morgan Mizell/The Natchez Democrat)

Local artist Lorraine Griffin is passionate about art and Toys-for-Tots. (Morgan Mizell/The Natchez Democrat)

By Morgan Mizell

NATCHEZ — For local artist Loraine Griffin, giving back to the community is as natural as painting a canvas.

Griffin and other ladies in the community are heading up the Toys-for-Tots campaign in Natchez.

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The national toy drive is currently under way, and donation boxes are scattered throughout the community. The drive will end Dec. 13.

“Toys-for Tots is a new passion for me,” Griffin said. “I have been so blessed, especially in this last year, and I feel I need to share blessings with others.”

Griffin has known several people who have lost jobs, and she is concerned some children in the Miss-Lou will not have as nice a Christmas as they should.

“I know there are people hurting as more layoffs have occurred,” Griffin said. “We are looking to help those people in the area who cannot afford to give their children the Christmas they would like to and while we may not be able to get them all, we are working to get as many as we can.”

Griffin, who has lived in Natchez with her husband Johnnie for nearly 30 years, understands what it means to struggle. She and her husband have experienced many things through the years, even having to downsize from a family home to a trailer.

“We spent the last nine years living on the campus of J.L. Frazier Elementary,” Griffin said. “We were their security guards and we made our home on their grounds in the little trailer out front.”

Griffin and her husband had long since outgrown the space when they happened upon the “blessing” of their current home.

“We are still moving our belongings in,” Griffin said. “You know two artists can really accumulate a lot of supplies and it takes time to get it all relocated.”

Two other ladies are helping Griffin with the toy drive. They are Valeria Quinn and Diane M. Smith.

While the drive has been going on for years, Griffin said the representative for the area had not been present for a while.

“When we found out kids in our area were not receiving the donations from several of the previous year’s drives we decided that would not do,” Griffin said. “The other volunteers and I agreed we would work hard to make sure the kids in our area benefited as well.”

Boxes can be found in the Armstrong Library, Cash Saver Grocery, Co-Lin Community College, Dairy Queen, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Hotel Vue, McDonald’s Tracetown location, Natchez Convention Center, The Natchez Democrat, Natchez Manor, Papa John’s Pizza, Popeye’s (Natchez and Vidalia), Sango Dodge, Shoney’s, Sports Center, The Markets (Natchez and Vidalia) and Wendy’s. There are also money donation boxes at Darby’s and the Farmer’s Market.

“I know the boxes haven’t gotten a lot of traffic at this point,” Griffin said. “I am hopeful as Thanksgiving approaches and folks begin to shop they may feel the desire to do for others as well.”

This year, Griffin and her team have joined with a few other agencies to ensure they are able to help area children.

“I decorated the boxes and created the promotional information for our area this year,” Griffin said. “I enjoy doing it.”

The boxes will be picked up on Dec. 13. For more info, contact any of the women by phone or email: Valeria Quinn, 601-653-9001; Diane M. Smith, 601-653-2949 or Loraine Griffin, 601-807-3290. The email address is