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Break out your pots and your paddles and get ready to go to battle for gumbo supremacy at this year's Battle of the Gumbo Gladiators for Shreveport's Volunteers for Youth Justice!

If you're not familiar with Volunteers for Youth Justice, they exist to help our children locally through a myriad of programs!

As a TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Intervention) Advocate, I can personally attest to what Volunteers for Youth Justice do for our community. From advocates like myself working with foster families to providing CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, TASC (Truancy Assessment Service Center) and facilitating youth programs, like JumpStart, Gems and Gents Youth Mentoring, and more, every dime raised for this organization is helping children right here in our area!

In fact, in one year, VYJ was able to provide services for 6,700 children in our area! I can't imagine what our community would be like without Volunteers for Youth Justice. That's why their annual fundraiser, the Battle of the Gumbo Gladiators, is so important! Plus, you can always have a good time while supporting our community, which is always a bonus in my book!

After an unplanned time out due to the pandemic, it's time to give your taste buds what they crave! Battle of the Gumbo Gladiators is going down Saturday, March 12, 2022, at Shreveport's Festival Plaza downtown. Admission is free and gates are open from 12 pm - 5 pm. If you have little ones, there will be a play area thanks to Bayou Bounce. Gumbo samples are $2 each and there will be food trucks on-site for palette cleansers.

I don't know if this is a bonus or not, but I'll be the host for the event, joining 30+ judges who will be sampling the gumbo in a blind taste test. Prizes will be awarded to the top three in the following categories: chicken/sausage, seafood, and lagniappe. Winning teams will get $400, a trophy and medals, and best of all, bragging rights! While registration is already closed, you can still come sample all of the goods and cheer your favorites on to victory.

All proceeds from the event support the work of Volunteers for Youth Justice, a nonprofit organization that provides a community caring for children, youth and families in crisis. Learn more at www.vyjla.org.

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