Victoria LeBlanc, a member of Vermilion Parish 4-H and a home-school high school graduate, organized an annual talent show that raised more than $9,000 in its first three years for a local hospital, deployed soldiers and their families, and hurricane victims.
Victoria, an experienced piano player and a strong proponent of community service, was looking for a way to combine these two interests when she hit upon the idea of a fund-raising talent show. "I truly believe in the performing arts and their ability to enhance a person's life," said Victoria.
A talent show, she reasoned, "would be a fun way to give 4-H'ers and community members an opportunity to get involved in the performing arts, and raise money for a great cause at the same time."
For the first "Showcase of Talent Benefit" in 2003, Victoria coordinated every detail, choosing performers, securing a location, promoting the event, selling tickets, encouraging donations, and producing the show. The proceeds of more than $3,600 were donated to St. Jude's Hospital.
For the second benefit, Victoria asked the Jr. Leader Club to take an active role in the production, and ended up raising an additional $2,600, which was used to make "hero packs" for the children of deployed members of the 256th National Guard Infantry, and to ship needed items to the troops.
Victoria appointed a co-chair for the third annual Showcase of Talent, in hopes that the benefit might continue after she graduated. The benefit was held to raise money for the victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Over $3,000 was raised and the money was used to purchase gifts and throw a party for the children who had lost their homes and many of their possessions to the hurricanes.
Although Victoria has graduated, as she hoped, the Showcase of Talent has become an integral part of the Jr. Leader Club's service learning projects. This year, it will be held as a benefit for their community service learning project "Coast Savers".