“Stuff the POD” to help give needy area children a better Christmas. It is reported that nearly 700 children in the Bridge City and Orangefield areas are in need of toys, shoes and clothing.

According to Sheryl Bolton, director for the Bridge City- Orangefield Ministerial Alliance the unprecedented numbers are referrals from Bridge City and Orangefield school districts.

“Many families are still trying to recover from Hurricane Ike and there is much unemployment and less fortunate people,” Bolton said.

The Stuff the POD Toy Drive was kicked-off Saturday by the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce as part of the Christmas Lights Parade celebration. It will continue until the POD (Portable On Demand Storage) container is filled.

“It’s about one-third full right now,” said Donna Scales chairwoman for the chamber’s holiday events. “So far we have been getting a wonderful response from the community.”

A truck load of toys arrived Saturday morning as the gift of local attorney Rodney Townsend. It included $1,000 worth of boys and girls bicycles, footballs, gloves, dolls and more. Additionally, entry fee for the Christmas Lights Parade was one new toy but most entrants brought several. Local citizens have also began dropping off toys at the chamber.

Once the POD is filled the toys and clothing will be distributed by the Ministerial Alliance to local children in need. Items may be dropped off at the BCCC office, 150 W. Roundbunch Road, where the POD is stationed.

“It just keeps getting better,” Scales said, “The night parade went over great and part of that was the toy drive that continues.”

The POD container was donated by Jim and Donna Wade of Port Neches, owners of PODS in Beaumont. The couple also own of Blockbuster in Bridge City.

The 2009 Christmas Lights Parade drew 81 entrants for the inaugural night parade commemorating the 50th anniversary year of the chamber. It was standing room only along the parade route after hundreds showed up early to tailgate or set up lawn chairs. Record breaking snow the day before enhanced the spirit of the festivities.

The snow and rain, however, brought a halt to the Orange Jaycees Christmas Parade on Friday evening. The chamber welcomed the Jaycee participants and several took part in the Bridge City parade.

Parade entrants were judged in three categories with the top three receiving commemorative trophies. In the float category the Lions Leo Club won first, Community Christian Church was second and Bridge City Bank, third. In the car and truck division Firestone Credit Union placed first, Cowboy Church, second and First Baptist Church third. In the walker category the Bridge City High School Strutters were first and the BCHS marching band were second.

During the day photos with Santa were taken by professional photographer Adrienne Colletti. The chamber also sold hot links and boudain and gave away cotton candy at the Prairie View Teacherage that houses the chamber. Both were fundraisers to help cover cost for the parade. Commemorative coffee mugs are still available for $5 each as a collectible.

Honored as 2009 parade marshals were the state champion Bridge City Little League All-Star baseball team. The team won the hearts of the town when the 12-year old boys advanced to the final game of the Southwest Regional tournament ending the season just one game away from the Little League World Series last fall. Their exploits where televised worldwide on ESPN.

The parade route proceeded from First Baptist Church down West Roundbunch Road to the Bridge City Intermediate School.

Co-chairing the event with Scales are BCCC board members Becky Andrews and Ricky Land.

“Everything wasn’t perfect or work out exactly as planned,” Scales said, “But we did our best and it was a good time for everyone. Now we need to fill that POD with toys.”