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Thanking the unsung heroes: Plate lunches delivered to essential workers

LAPLACE — Essential workers in St. John the Baptist Parish were treated to an excellent meal Monday afternoon as a “thank you” for their efforts to serve the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eliza Eugene, founder of local nonprofit Blessed to Be a Blessing, wanted to acknowledge the employees’ unfailing commitment.

“I felt that they needed to be recognized, as many people are not working. We have heard of people getting paid more to stay home than to show up for work with the unemployment right now, but these people went out every day and they continue to go out to service our community, risking their lives,” Eugene said. “Some of them are single parents, and they still have to be the teacher and everything else that is needed inside of their household. I just want them to know that we care about them. We recognize what they are doing, and we appreciate it.”

Blessed to Be a Blessing board members Lois Frank, Stacey Millet and Nycole Colbert package meals July 13 at Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School in LaPlace.

Lunches were delivered to all of the Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Food 4 Less and Family Dollar stores in the parish, representing both sides of the river. Workers at Walmart, Winn Dixie, Matherne’s and Club Grocery were grateful to receive the meals, which also went out to all the local Shell gas stations and the staff at Place Du Bourg and Twin Oaks nursing home.

A total of 573 meals were delivered. Eugene said some businesses, including but not limited to Cargill, Regions Bank and State Farm – James Wagner, received meals as a thank you for supporting Blessed to Be a Blessing’s 2020 Backpack Extravaganza.

Delisa Gardner Crawford and Brenda Anderson prepared the red beans and rice at Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School. Crawford and Anderson are dedicated cooks for the school, and they are always willing to volunteer for community events.

Birdie’s Fried Chicken (River Forest location) also donated food for the boxed lunches. Each box included a dessert from one of the following sponsors: Lynette Davis of Jennie B’s, Darlinta Garrison of Kake My Day, Jasz Jasper of Jasmine’s Sweet Factory and Angela Joseph of Angela Joseph Sweets. Sweet treats included pralines, cookies, muffins and chocolate and vanilla cake.

Blessed to Be a Blessing board members Stacey Millet, Nycole Colbert, Lois Frank and Mala Taylor assisted Eugene in the effort. Bridget A. Dinvaut, Darryl Isom and Robin Bailey of the St. John Parish District Attorney’s Office assisted with the deliveries.

Vanessa Linton of the LaPlace Walmart said the meals were much appreciated.

LaPlace Walmart representatives Kimberly Holley, Vanessa Linton, Rickey Bartholomew, Donna Victor, Doretha Joseph, Brandice Holland and Latrichia Holmes pick up their thank you lunches in the break room.

“It’s a blessing because of what we’ve been through with the pandemic. Some of the associates have been overwhelmed with hours, with demands that we can’t get to the customers, but we do our best as a community to come together,” Linton said.

Between being short staffed and taking on the challenge of working in new departments, employees have endured a challenging spring and summer. Through it all, they have worked together to keep the store accessible to those in need.

“We all came together as a team,” she said.

Kimberly Holley of the LaPlace Walmart added that the lunches made the associates feel appreciated for all their efforts.

Eugene said that appreciation extended to every business she visited on Monday. She called the essential workers “unsung heroes,” and she was grateful to let them know their work has not gone unnoticed.

“What we saw andexperienced was beyond anything I could ever put in words,” Eugene said. “It was just breathtaking. We even gave dinners to some of the sick and elderly in the community. We always want to try to make a difference and impact in our community in a positive way, even during this pandemic.”