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The Best and the Worst of the Week


Irvin Mayfield, famed local trumpeter and chairman of the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) board, threw his own birthday party, "Thirty for 30," at the Latter Memorial Library last Saturday — but instead of receiving presents, Mayfield gave the library $30,000 and got 30 of his friends to give $1,000 each to match his gift. Admission was free to the public, which featured a number of local musicians, but partygoers had to present a library card or register for one there.

Benjamin Franklin Senior High School had 17 seniors, the most in the country and in the school's history, named as National Achievement semi-finalists. The program honors academic achievement in African-American students who post qualifying PSAT scores and superior grades. Not to be outdone, 26 seniors, including some of the National Achievement semifinalists, were named National Merit semifinalists and another three were named National Hispanic Scholars.

Zurich Financial Services, which sponsors the annual Zurich Classic of New Orleans and its charitable organization, the Fore!Kids Foundation, donated 220 Toys "R" Us gift cards worth $100 each to needy families. The families were selected by Fore!Kids and invited to a special catered event, where they received their gift cards and then went Christmas shopping.

Drew Brees, through his "Operation Kids: Rebuilding Dreams in New Orleans," donated more than $72,000 to reopen the Royal Castle Child Development Center in the Carrollton area. More than 82 percent of licensed local daycare facilities were destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. Brees' group worked with the Greater New Orleans Child Care Collaborative, a United Way-sponsored organization, to help reopen the Carrollton center. The collaborative hopes to reopen 10 to 15 more centers in 2008.

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