The Service League of Orange held its annual banquet this past week as the organization celebrated a successful 2015-2016 and installed new officers. The new officers are, from left to right, Susan Freiberg, Corresponding Secretary; Nancy Shawhan, Parliamentarian; Anne Payne, Recording Secretary; Nitia Smith, Treasurer; Jennifer McConnell, President; and Rita Ballard, Vice President.

By Tommy Mann Jr. – For The Record

An organization which volunteers hundreds of hours each year for the betterment of its community recently celebrated another successful year at its annual meeting.

The Service League of Orange held its annual luncheon recently at Sunset Grove Country Club in Orange to bring a close to the 2014-2015 business year and recap on the successes.

The organization is best known for the largest holiday fundraising event in Orange County, which is the Toy Coffee. Held at First Presbyterian Church in December of 2015, the Toy Coffee event is held annually to raise money and toys for children who might go without during the holiday season.

According to information provided by Nancy Shawhan, the outgoing president of the Service League of Orange, a total of 524 guests attended the event this past December and donated a total of $4,023 while bringing in 701 toys to be distributed at Christmas. This event surpassed all figures from the 2014 Toy Coffee.

During the fall of each year the Service League of Orange provides funding to non-profit organizations through grants as part of its continuing support of the community. In 2015, the Service League approved applications for 14 charitable organizations while donating approximately $18,200 in grants.

The organization is also known for providing scholarships to local students who are seeking to continue their education after high school. For 2016, the Service League of Orange has selected five recipients from the Class of 2016 for scholarships. Recipients of $1,000 scholarships are Jacob Thomas, LC-M High School; Cameron Armstrong, Orangefield High School; William Clay Johnson, Vidor High School; and Brandon Roy, West Orange-Stark High School. Amberly Brown of Vidor High School received a $500 scholarship to attend Lamar State College-Orange.

Provisional members Debbie Francis, Theresa Glidden and Brenna Smith were introduced during a membership coffee event this past January.

Women from the Service League of Orange also volunteered at several locations this past year as part of the continuing effort to provide service to the community, which included placements at Orange Christian Services (OCS), Elder Fun, Fine Arts and at the Gift Shop inside Baptist Hospital Orange. More than 850 volunteer hours were provided at area schools for students, facilities for senior citizens and data entry at OCS, while another 2,200 hours of volunteer work were provided in November during the 2nd Annual Christmas Open House event at the Gift Shop.

The Service League also announced plans for its largest fundraiser, which is held once every three years, the event simply known as the Follies. The Follies will be held in early 2017. Codie Vasquez has been appointed as chairperson of the event with Nancy Shawhan serving as co-chairperson.

Nancy Shawhan, at right, the outgoing President of the Service League of Orange, passes the gavel to the incoming President, Jennifer McConnell, during the organization's annual meeting this past week.

Nancy Shawhan, at right, the outgoing President of the Service League of Orange, passes the gavel to the incoming President, Jennifer McConnell, during the organization’s annual meeting this past week.

Shawhan presented the gavel to incoming President Jennifer McConnell during the meeting to signify the change in leadership in the organization for the 2016-2017 year. Along with McConnell, the newly elected officers for 2016-2017 were also introduced: Rita Ballard, Vice President; Nancy Shawhan, Parlianmentarian; Nitia Smith, Treasurer; Susan Freiberg, Corresponding Secretary; and Anne Payne, Recording Secretary.