Like most St. Jude fundraising projects, the playhouse began as a small idea and has grown into something much larger over the years.
"People say I started the playhouse idea, but I'm really not too sure," Cora Lou Robinson said. "The first one I remember, Richardson school did, and I was a teacher there at the time."
At the very least, Robinson kicked off local school fundraisers for the Memphis-based hospital for children with catastrophic illnesses.
"I taught six children that were St. Jude patients," she said. "When I was teaching at Richardson, I wanted the children to give to St. Jude."
They started by raffling a doll.
"I would get on the speaker every morning and tell the children to give up something," Robinson said. "I refused to give prizes; I asked the children to give up something and give to St. Jude."
She doesn't remember how much money the children raised. After all, it was more than 20 years ago.
"But they gave from their heart," she said. "That's what was important."
Somewhere along the way, the playhouse idea formed, and money raised by the children went toward construction.
"Different people built it – Minden High School shop students have done it, Wade Correctional inmates did it one year and most recently, the firefighters have taken it over," she said.
In the past, it was a simple design – four walls, a floor and a roof, but it has grown to be much more in the past few years.
Playing off the popularity of the A&E television show Duck Dynasty, this year's playhouse theme is "Hunting for a Cure" and the playhouse is a duck blind that will make an outdoorsman out of any child.
"I like the morals of the Robertson family with Duck Dynasty," said Jenny Mourad, who is chairman of the playhouse for the St. Jude Auction. "Children in this area love to hunt. I find it to be good, wholesome fun for
children, and I felt like it would be a good way to promote our cause to raise money for St. Jude."
Two years ago, firefighters built a firehouse that earned $24,000 for the auction. Last year, a schoolhouse in Robinson's honor brought in $26,000.
"A schoolhouse was chosen to honor the lifelong work of Cora Lou Robinson, as a teacher in Webster Parish who involved thousands of local schoolchildren in the fund-raising efforts of the local auction over the years," Mourad said. "She oversaw the building of many wonderful playhouses built over the years as a beloved educator for Webster Parish schools.
"Her tireless efforts to involve children in St. Jude's cause has been instrumental in the success of our local auction," she continued. "Because she involved so many children in the fund-raising, many of these children have grown up to be wonderful supporters and volunteers for the auction."
Playhouse raffle tickets are $10 each, and St. Jude auction personnel and Minden firefighters hope the duck blind will set another record.
"Minden is the most wonderful place for what they do," Robinson said. "We raise more money per capita than any other town in the United States and it's because of the people that live here. I just think they are wonderful."Subscribe to Read!