Sam’s Town Shreveport Gives Homeless Children Happy Memories

While each spring you may have an idea of when the Easter Bunny will show up, you’ll never know where he’ll hop into view. One thing’s for sure though, he delivers smiles without fail.

Such was the case for Providence House in Shreveport, Louisiana, this year when generous team members at the nearby Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino appeared on their doorstep. The Easter baskets they delivered were filled with candy and toys for all the children – from toddlers to teens – living at the residential treatment center for homeless families. The children were overjoyed by the thrilling surprise, while their parents stood by with gratitude-filled hearts.

Community Connections

It all started when Michelle Nikl-Jordan, the property’s Team Member Relations Manager, stopped by to see her friends in the cashier cage. They got to talking, and cashier Natasha Smith suggested Sam’s Town Shreveport’s next community outreach effort should be to support Providence House, an organization near and dear to her heart.

Smith has always been involved in various charity and outreach programs through her church. Over time, her passionate commitment spread to her children and now her daughter, Destinee, has picked up the torch. For the Smiths, giving Providence House residents a sense of normalcy is only topped by showing struggling families they are still important members of the community.

“The residents come from all walks of life. Many are working through addictions or escaping abusive situations,” explained Nikl-Jordan. “Providence House provides comprehensive support services to help their entire families pull through tough times together.”

One of Providence House’s key goals centers on helping families break the cycle of homelessness. Residents develop job skills and take parenting classes. Their children can stay in the same school and come home knowing they’ll be safe each night.

Community Challenge

With the blessing of Sam’s Town Shreveport’s Human Resources Director, Wesley Garcia, Nikl-Jordan and Smith issued a challenge to the Sam’s Town team – they provided each department a basket with the basics to fill for a child.

“We expected 24 baskets back,” said Nikl-Jordan. “We were blown away when we got more than 48. Some departments turned in five to seven baskets.”

For many team members, kindness was fueled by empathy. Despite the challenges of operating in a pandemic, Providence House’s mission resonated with many team members who had faced their own share of challenges over the years. The basket delivery was so plentiful, the charity invited non-residential clients to participate in the fun.

The surveillance team’s contributions were particularly memorable. Some of their seven baskets contained stuffed animals from Build-A-Bear, complete with adoption certificates for their new pint-sized parents.

“In the end, we really wanted these kids to have some positive memories,” said Nikl-Jordan. “They are on a tough road as it is and, with COVID-19, the disruptions in their lives were only magnified.”

She wasn’t surprised by her colleagues’ outpouring and readiness to help. Sam’s Town Shreveport has a long history of community service, including the Shreveport Rescue Mission, blood drives, gingerbread house decorating for kids in counseling for abuse, and a toy drive.

“It’s in our spirit,” Nikl-Jordan said. “We are giving back the Boyd Way with our own Shreveport flair.”

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