The Baird Charitable Trust, which is managed by Citizens National Bank's Wealth Management Division, was established in 1978 by William Robert Baird, a native of Louisiana. In his will, Baird requested that the income from his charitable trust account be used to support persons, institutions, and organizations which serve the poor people of Mississippi and Louisiana.
It is during this tough economic time that, for so many, gifts from the Baird Trust have never been more important than now.
"The William Robert Baird Trust was created at his death in 1978," said Archie McDonnell, president and chief executive officer of Citizens National Bank. "He had the foresight to leave a little less than a million dollars. And today that little less than a million dollars is worth about $4 or $5 million."
Since the Baird Trust has been in the care of Citizens National Bank, more than $3.8 million has been distributed to charitable and non-profit agencies.
The distribution was awarded to fourteen local agencies Tuesday in an amount of more than $70,000.
"It makes up a sector of their operating budget," said McDonnell. "Without that money they can't staff, they can't do their work, they can't help people. And that's what Mr. Baird created this for."
Each year this money goes a long way to help these agencies.
"A lot of times it has assisted in keeping our doors open," said Callie Cole, executive director of Multi-County Community Service Agency. "Sometimes we'll be short on things to help people and this has always come through just in time."
"The needs we are seeing in the community are hitting a different set of people," said Andy Hodges, coordinator of community services for Wesley House. "People who have never had to ask before. People that don't know how to ask, and so it's helpful to know that you're going to have that money coming in."
The agencies expressed true joy in continuing Mr. Baird's promise of reaching out.
"Just seeing those boys' faces when they are at camp," said Ken Kercheval, executive director of the Choctaw Area Boys Scouts Council. "They appreciate it. And just knowing you don't have to tell them no. That's what it means."
One person can truly make a difference.
"It's wonderful that one man could touch so many lives," said Hodges. "And it shows what we can do if we get out there and try to touch lives."
The following organizations received grants: Care Lodge, Multi-County Community Service Agency, L.O.V.E.'s Kitchen, Lauderdale County Habitat for Humanity, Mississippi Special Olympics, Community of Hope Tutoring Program, Greater New Orleans Foundation, Wesley House Community Center, Boy Scouts of America (Disadvantaged Campers Fund), Catholic Charities, the Key Chapter of the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army of Meridian, the Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi, and Hope Village for Children.