Spreading love in Ruston

By Spencer Drake

This February, the city of Ruston has a chance to come together and spread love to a sometimes forgotten part of the community. While the Night to Shine event is hosted by First Baptist Church in Ruston, it is a community event for all to participate in. 

The Night to Shine event is a chance for kids with special needs to be celebrated by having their own prom, full of many different forms of celebrity treatment. From a red carpet walk to a live DJ, the night presents a great opportunity for the kids to feel loved and not forgotten. There are a lot of moving parts that go towards putting a magical night like this together, however.

There are 28 different teams that all work together to make this night happen, such as paparazzi/red carpet crew, hair/makeup crew, security, decoration, and flower crew, just to name a couple. There also is the role of being a buddy, which is a special role. A buddy follows around an assigned guest and keeps them company throughout the night, helping them with whatever they may need.

Back in 2020, when the event was last held, there were 134 guests that attended with around 360 volunteers to help set up and run the event. This year, 180 guests have signed up so far, but there are only around 60 volunteers registered up to help. 

This event is dependent on the community coming together to support this amazing cause. Tonya Smith, the coordinator for the Night to Shine event, shared why she loves putting together this event for the kids.

“This is a chance for us to change what Valentine’s Day means for these kids, not just what love is but what God’s love is for them,” said Smith. 

The Night the Shine event will be held at the Louisiana Tech Student Center on Feb. 10 from 6-9 p.m. Those who would like to volunteer can visit the event’s Facebook page at First Ruston Night To Shine. There, just click the link in the About section and register to volunteer.

The next meeting for volunteers will be Jan. 23 at 6 p.m. at the First Baptist Fellowship Hall.