Friday, November 26, 2021

Oxford Chamber Helping Baton Rouge In Time Of Need

Baton Rouge
“I’m pretty sure this is the first disaster, we have responded to where volunteers have to make meal deliveries by boat,” said Gary LeBlanc, founder, and president of Mercy Chefs. (Photo by Mercy Chefs)

1. Question: How can people give?
Ryan Miller: Even though our initial “Flash Drive” has concluded, we will most likely have other opportunities for folks to give. As is the case with any disaster relief, the needs of those affected will change over time. Whereas we have provided cleaning supplies, water to drink, and basic first aid kits, I am sure there will be a need for clothes, bedding, and other household items soon. When we receive those requests, we will put the call out again.

2. Question: How did the flash drive come about?
Ryan Miller: Our “Flash Drive” campaign came about through discussions that I had with Chamber staff. Pam Swain, Jon Maynard, and I know full well how giving our LOU(Lafayette County, the University, and Oxford)community can be. We also knew that many of them understand the importance of supporting other communities in times of tragedy, loss, and natural disaster. The folks in Louisiana have suffered a natural disaster that has resulted in lives being lost, 30,000 to 40,000 homes damaged or made uninhabitable, and a great many people left with a sense of hopelessness. We wanted to help, and our community did not disappoint.

3. How has the response been?
Ryan Miller: In the course of roughly two days, we collected so many supplies, the chamber office had boxes stacked to the ceiling. Businesses, student organizations and individual citizens gave so much! While we recognize that our contribution is small when compared to the overall need, it is still very significant. I think people understood the sense of urgency, and they responded as only the LOU community would. They showed compassion and love by being sacrificial.

4. Question: How important is it for Oxford and cities of the like to help out with the flood relief

Ryan Miller: I am convinced now more than ever that local communities and neighboring towns must bare more of the responsibility of caring for those in desperate situations like our neighbors to the west. The federal and state governments will provide assistance, as they should. However, I think the power and resolve of local, civic organizations, faith related groups, and businesses have a response time that is often felt faster by those who need it most. I think the LOU community continues to show that time and time again.

Ryan Miller: Finally, it is my wholehearted belief that giving begets giving. My hope is that once the immediate needs are met in Louisiana, we can continue with our “Flash Drive” efforts by refocusing them on needs that are present here within our community. Our current #weget2livehere campaign is designed to highlight what makes our community so great as well as the responsibility that we all bare in perpetuating a single fact. While we are not immune to problems that face many communities, this place is very special. I believe our people continue to prove that.

Mercy Chefs, a Virginia non-profit organization, is also in Baton Rouge. Mercy Chefs is a collection of executive chefs that prepares food for volunteers who work in disaster situations. The Mercy Chefs outpost is located at Bethany Church in Baton Rouge.

“I’m pretty sure this is the first disaster, we have responded to where volunteers have to make meal deliveries by boat,” said Gary LeBlanc, founder, and president of Mercy Chefs.

Collin Brister is a staff writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at collin.brister@hottytoddy.com.

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