Faith-based community offering storm assistance

Published 12:03 am Saturday, February 27, 2016

LAPLACE — The St. John Faith Based Organization sprang into action in an effort to help those St. John the Baptist Parish residents affected by the tornados that struck the parish Tuesday.

The Rev. Donald R. August, pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church, said the organization has received donated cleaning supplies, tarps and racks from businesses such as Home Depot and Lowe’s and also items from individuals that wanted to lend a helping hand.

“The Faith Based Organization has been meeting for the past six years and whenever there is an emergency situation like this, we pool our resources and try to provide the assistance that residents need,” August said. “The main delivery area is the St. John Community Center, and we have pods that are set up at the Arcuri Center, at LaPlace Elementary, Ascension of Our Lord and also at Celebration Church. We have things for anyone who has been affected.”

The organization started getting donations Wednesday at the Community Center, and Thursday morning they were sent to the pods to be given to residents, August said, adding those impacted by the storm are resilient.

“We know that it’s a tough situation to be in, but I believe the quicker we can get assistance to those who are most affected, the easier it is for them to at least start the recovery process,” August said. “I understand how important it is to get assistance to them quickly, and then from there, we can begin the whole process of restoration, recovery and getting back to some sense of normalcy.”

St. John Faith Based Organization Chairman the Rev. Checkerz Williams is helping man one of points of distribution at the location he preaches, Celebration Church.

“Water, cleaning supplies, ice tarps and hygiene items are being passed out at the pods,” he said. “At my location we have a map where we have outlined the path of the tornados. If we have people who show up and fill out a needs assessment and if the address is way outside of the disaster area, then we explain that the recourses we have right now are for the ones that were directly affected. For the most part, everyone that has been showing up has been in the affected areas.”

Williams said those residents that have come seeking assistance seem extremely grateful.

“Lots of people come up and thank us,” he said. “We offer to pray with people as they come through. The pods, at this time, we are doing them a week at a time. We’ll probably be active through all of next week.”

Williams said he wanted to thank all of the churches and individuals volunteered and donated supplies.

“We’ve had numerous individuals who saw my post of Facebook who’ve just pulled up in their vehicles and bought whatever supplies they could afford and brought them,” he said.

Those wishing to receive donations or drop them off can go to any of the pod locations, Williams said, adding they are in need of cleaning supplies such as gloves, mops, buckets and disinfectant. Williams is asking those who donate items in bulk or pallets to drop them off at the St. John Community Center.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve been in a situation like this,” Williams said. “If I know anything about our community, it is that they are an extremely resilient community.  This is something we will obviously get through.”