"Fresh breeze of humanity" Girl donates birthday gifts to less fortunate

A Thibodaux elementary school student got just what she wanted for the birthday she celebrated last week.

Smiles on the faces of children she had never met before.

Josie Gravois, a St. Joseph’s 7th grade, told her mom she didn’t want anything for her birthday, not for herself anyhow.

“I asked her in June or July what she wanted for her birthday and she told me she didn’t want any presents this year,” said Josie’s mom, Jessica Oubre. ”She said she would rather give something to somebody. She wanted it to be someone or somewhere local and make sure it was getting to the proper people.”

Cheryl Oubre, Josie’s grandma, works for CASA of Lafourche, the organization that advocates for the interests of children in court proceedings, and had mentioned the Louis Infant’s Crisis Center in family conversations. The Center, located in Houma, is home to children in need of protection from abuse, neglect or exploitation.

The center’s director, Carolyn McNabb, was flabbergasted when “out of the blue” she was notified that a girl in Thibodaux who asked her family members for gift cards rather than traditional presents for her birthday wanted to give those cards to the children currently in the center’s care.

Last Thursday Josie and her mom showed up with the cards, and met with the children.

“She said she really had everything she wanted but she knew our children had often done without in their lives,” McNabb said. “She had a handful of gift cards for movies and various restaurants from around Houma totaling over $100. I brought her to meet some of the children who were home from school and when she gave them the cards it looked like Christmas in October. They rushed her with excitement and the smile on her face was nothing short of priceless. It was such a beautiful moment. In the midst of the politics of ugliness that we have been enduring over the last many months, this little girl rode up the driveway on a fresh breeze of humanity and reminded us that children can teach us all a lesson or two.”

The gift included cards from Chick-Fil-A, Domino’s Pizza, Raising Cane’s, Chuck E. Cheese’s and the AMC Palace theater.

“When they saw the gift cards the children were jumping up and down,” said Jessica, who drove Josie to the center. “They were jumping up and down, some asking ‘this mind’ and ‘can we go now?”

Josie said the visit provided memories she will cherish.

“It was very weird and different and a very good experience,” Josie said, when asked to recount the experience. “A lot of the children told me thank you and I can’t forget that moment. No matter what your life may be you should always try to give because there is always someone out there that has it worse.”

A cheerleader and cross-country runner, Josie is a fan of 60s artists like the Beach Boys as well as country tunes. She likes to help her grandma and her 16-year-old sister, Jamie, sell concessions at local football games to raise money for CASA.

“I am proud of both of them,” Cheryl Oubre said. “This was just Josie’s way of giving back to the community.”

Carolyn McNabb said she and staff at the center will make up any differences required between the card amounts and the bills at various venues.

“It meant a lot to me that she made their day,” Jessica Oubre said. “A lot of kids don’t understand what other children go through. Josie said she didn’t know it was going to make them that happy and she asked me if we could to the same thing on another holiday.”

Josie Gravois