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Celebrate Mardi Gras by giving back

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

Before Lockhart residents turn their thoughts to fasting and prayer for the Lenten season, a special Mardi Gras celebration will give them a chance not only to feast, but to use their feasting as a means to help at least one local family find something new to celebrate.

A year into their existence, Caldwell County Habi

tat for Humanity has partnered with Cedar Hall, popular local band The Fossils, and dozens of businesses and individuals to host a Mardi Gras celebration to benefit Habitat For Humanity.

The party and fundraiser, slated to begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6, will include a dance and live and silent auctions geared toward raising funds to help Habitat for Humanity to build a home for an area family in need.

Since their inception last year, Caldwell County Habitat for Humanity has participated in a number of “Brush with Kindness” projects, which focus on exterior repairs to existing homes in the area.

According to HFH organizers Pat and Donita Haden, “Brush with Kindness” work is usually limited to $5,000 – $10,000 worth of work in painting, landscaping, siding and wheelchair ramps, among other exterior upgrades.

As useful as those projects are, however, HFH is setting their sights a little higher for 2010.

“We need to raise around $75,000 to build a home,” said Tommy Lowe, who has been pounding the pavement to gather local donations toward the Mardi Gras auction. “And we are hoping this event will bring us some solid donations to get us on our way.”

Among the donations gathered for the auction, Lowe said there are several fishing trips, transportation for eight, along with two private boxes, at Retama Park, and a steak dinner for eight, delivered and prepared in a location of the buyer’s choice. Lowe said he had also collected two firearms, and several other big-ticket items.

Additionally, dozens of smaller items, including jewelry, gift baskets, furniture and gift certificates will be available at the silent auction for those who might want to contribute, but are unable to afford the larger items.

Every donation, regardless of the size, will be instrumental in helping HFH reach their goals for 2010, he said.

Ideally, if Mardi Gras is a success, HFH will be in a position to start considering a ground-up build for a Caldwell County family in need. They have acquired a lot in Lockhart, and have received full backing from the Lockhart City Council to move forward. The only thing lacking now is the funds.

When the money becomes available, the group will begin taking applications for families to benefit from the build project. However, it is important to note, D. Haden said, that any family benefiting from an HFH build will have to do their share.

“Prior to occupying the home, the family puts in 400 hours of sweat equity and attends 24 home ownership classes that are conducted by Habitat staff and volunteers,” she said. “When their home is complete and has passed city requirements and any others they will attend a closing and receive a deed and sign a deed of trust for the mortgage – they do sign a note for 15 – 35 years, but the note is interest free. They are not actually given the house.”

She said applicant families and volunteers are often surprised by the fact that the families are not given the home outright.

The Caldwell County Habitat for Humanity steering council generally meets on the fourth Thursday of each month at the First Christian Church at 7 p.m. Interested visitors and potential volunteers are always welcome.

The Caldwell County Habitat for Humanity Mardi Gras will be held at Cedar Hall Bar and grill, 1721 S. Commerce in Lockhart, beginning at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6.

For information on making a donation or buying a pre-sale ticket, contact Lowe at (512) 376-7225, or Haden at (512) 376-1949.

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