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Giving Back: QHotels blesses foster children with Christmas toys

LAPLACE — When QHotels President Vimal Patel moved to the United States from India in the early 1990s, he experienced the hardship of making ends meet while working night shifts at McDonald’s.

Patel found the means and motivation to give back to the community when family business QHotels, headquartered in LaPlace, developed into a major player in the hospitality industry.

QHotels leadership has spread joy to children in foster care for the past three years through personalized Christmas gift donations to the River Region Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).

CASA compiled a Christmas wish list for 70 children in the River Parishes, and QHotels followed through by purchasing bicycles, stuffed toys, clothing, art supplies and other age-appropriate gifts.

The gifts will be delivered to foster families this month.

Patel said QHotels chose to partner with CASA out of love for children who have had their worlds overturned at a young and fragile age.

Mina Patel, from left, is joined by Vimal Patel, Rachael Burns, Shannon Brown and Akeem Burl.

“This was the cause most dear to our hearts,” Patel said. “We initiated this cause three years ago to give foster children support since it is very difficult to not be with family during the holidays. We want to make sure there is some joy in their lives during this time.”

CASA River Region supervisor Akeem Burl said the donations brighten the lives of children who may feel forgotten in the system.

“It gives kids hope that people still think about them,” Burl said. “Even though they are in foster care, there are people who care and recognize the situations they have been in. They are still provided that support, love and compassion.”

Burl said CASA services children of all ages who have been abused or neglected. The LaPlace office is located at 2840 W. Airline Highway, and the St. Charles Parish office is located at 131 Lakewood Dr. in Luling.

Burl said those interested in becoming a court-appointed advocate can call Kristy Rice at 225-647-2005 or visit childadv.net.

“We thank the Patel family and QHotels for continuing to think of us,” Burl said. “This is their third year doing this, and we never have to call them or send a reminder because we know they are going to come through.”

Patel said this year’s effort included more infant and children’s toys than last year, which serviced a greater number of older children and teenagers. A similar $1,000 outreach event took place this week at the QHotels Lake Charles location.

In addition to donating toys to foster children, Patel, his wife, Mina, and their daughters have sent out close to $18,000 in microloans since 2014 to help new business owners around the world develop their dream companies.

“We know the hardships because we have experienced it ourselves,” Patel said. “We’ve gained success and benefits from this great country, and we’d like to return it to the community to say thank you. We want to challenge the other individuals in the business community who are able to assist and can afford to donate. Be part of holiday giving, whether it’s CASA or a different organization near and dear to their hearts.”

Established in 1997, QHotels operates Best Western, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express & Suites and TownePlace Suites by Marriott in LaPlace. The business has expanded with hotels in Houma, Lake Charles and Donaldsonville, with a new location soon to come in Slidell.