G. Smith Motorsports donates 150+ Thanksgiving baskets; 7th annual event benefits River Parishes

Published 12:10 am Saturday, November 27, 2021

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LAPLACE — G. Smith Motorsports isn’t all about racing and rallies. Brothers Glen and Gary Smith use the philanthropic platform to uplift the River Parishes community, especially during the holiday season.

Since 2015, G. Smith Motorsports’ annual Thanksgiving Basket giveaway has reached well over 1,000 families in need. The Smith brothers worked with community partners in St. Charles, St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes once again this past weekend to identify 150 families who are down on their luck and in need of a little extra love this holiday season.

Baskets were distributed last Saturday at the St. James Sheriff’s Office Maintenance Operations building in Vacherie, St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in LaPlace and Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Norco. Also assisting in the distribution were the BO$$HOG Brothers, a non-profit group based in St. James Parish.

Each Thanksgiving basket contained necessities to cook a nourishing Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, including but not limited to ingredients for a green bean casserole, dirty rice, corn, yams, turkey gravy, bread rolls, cake mix and icing, and Luzianne sweet tea. Each basket also included a Walmart gift card so families could purchase a turkey or ham as the centerpiece of the meal.

“If you wouldn’t put it on your table, don’t put it on someone else’s table,” Maintenance Dredging employee Michelle Matoka said as she packaged the Thanksgiving baskets last Friday at G.Smith Motorsports’ Indian Motorcycle building.

Matoka has volunteered to for the annual giveaway every year since it began. She’s happy to help fulfill a need in the community, especially after the devastation of Hurricane Ida.

This was the first year Cobi Smith has overseen the Thanksgiving event as the new business and communications coordinator for The Magnolia Companies LLC. Becoming part of the G. Smith family has opened her eyes to the Smith brothers’ passion for helping the community, and those efforts have only increased since the hurricane.

“I feel like a lot of companies don’t think about their communities as much as Mr. Glen and Mr. Gary do. They always want to take care of the people at home, not just in St. Charles, but also in St. James and St. John,” Smith said.

She added, “Hurricane Ida has highlighted how much people are in need. Right after the storm, (the Smith brothers) had a lot of crews helping when supplies were hard to come by. They came to my house and helped move some of my stuff because my condo got damaged. They did that for their employees and for residents of the River Parishes.”

As schools began to reopen in October, the Smith brothers, along with State Senator Gary Smith Jr., St. John the Baptist Parish President Jaclyn Hotard and other local volunteers, hosted a drive-thru school supply distribution to replenish classroom essentials lost during the hurricane.

In addition to the annual Thanksgiving distribution, G.Smith Motorsports also hosts annual Christmas events to ensure underprivileged children will have a new toy to cherish. G. Smith Motorsports has donated teddy bears to children enduring hospital stays during the holidays, and the organization has been a primary sponsor of Thomas Morestead’s What You Give Will Grow Foundation’s annual Prom of Champions. The Smith brothers have also been ardent supporters of first responders and healthcare heroes in the tri-parish area.

Glen Smith, president of G.Smith Motorsports and The Magnolia Companies of LA, LLC, said it’s a privilege to collaborate with local partners to achieve a common goal – helping those in need. He hopes families feel the love of the community in every Thanksgiving meal, and he is appreciative of the organizers and volunteers who make this feat possible year after year.

“It’s so incredible to come out here, to visit with people in our own community, partnering

with community leaders, to make all of this happen, it’s incredible. It’s a real privilege for us

to execute this kind of direct outreach,” Glen Smith said.

Gary Smith, president of G.Smith Motorsports and The Magnolia Companies of LA, LLC, added, “We hope that the families we met today have enjoyed this as much as we have; we hope that they all have a wonderful holiday season.”