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Essential employees, community members blessed with 550 hot meals

LAPLACE — Giving back doesn’t have to involve large monetary donations. According to Blessed to be a Blessing founder Eliza Eugene, giving back can be as simple as being a listening ear, helping clean a yard or offering a hot meal.

Blessed to be a Blessing recently delivered 550 hot meals to businesses and households in the River Parishes community.

The team of volunteers showed appreciation for the essential workers who keep the world moving under the most difficult circumstances. The hot meals also served as a show of love for those who needed it the most, including elderly residents and cancer patients.

“Your time is a very valuable asset. To me, it’s the most valuable asset I have. That’s why I am always willing to share my time with others that are in need,” Eugene said.

Eugene is a firm believer in community collaboration. Blessed to be a Blessing is a volunteer-based organization, and the hot meals would not have been possible without assistance from Gregg’s Neighborhood Market, Walmart, Food 4 Less, Garyville General Store and Winn-Dixie.

“It was truly a blessing for them to help with the donations, whether it was providing the rice or the sweets. All of those things make a difference,” Eugene said.

The hot meals included red beans and rice, fried chicken prepared by Freddie Cook and an assortment of sweet desserts. Local cooks Patronella Williams and Brenda Exum from the St. John Parish Public School District assisted with meal preparation.

The following businesses received hot meals between Saturday, March 6 and Monday, March 8: Regions Bank, James Wagner State Farm, Dollar Tree, Auto Zone, NAPA Auto Parts, Roussel’s, St. John Housing Authority, Ochsner, Gregg’s Neighborhood Market, Cargill, Nalco, Twin Oaks, Riverside Urgent Care, Belle Terre Urgent Care, Food 4 Less, Walmart, Geaux Chevrolet, St. Charles Parish Hospital, Resurrection Custom and Office Depot. Meals were also given to voter’s registration workers during the early voting period.

Gregg’s Neighborhood Market provided large containers for home deliveries, allowing Blessed to be a Blessing volunteers to pack enough food to feed entire families in need.

“We made a point this time not only to reach out to our medical workers that are putting their lives on the front line, but also to our grocery store workers and auto parts workers that are also very essential,” Eugene said. “They have been putting their lives on the line from day one. It’s a difficult time right now, and a lot of them are having to work while helping their kids with virtual school. We wanted to let them know that we care.”

Blessed to be a Blessing does not have any large fundraisers to fuel charity efforts. Individuals can contribute financially by sending donations, no matter how small, to $bless2bless on CashApp. Volunteers are also welcome to join future giving back events.

Blessed to be a Blessing is now gearing up for summer events, including the annual jazz and gospel brunch and the 2021 Backpack Extravaganza.

The “Meet me at the Pray Ground” Phenomenal Woman Jazz and Gospel Brunch will be held at 11 a.m. June 6 at 321 Events in LaPlace. This year’s event will honor recently retired St. John Parish Judge Madeline Jasmine.

Those who would like to purchase a ticket or reserve a table can contact Eugene at 504-451-4712 or Stacey Millet at 504-228-6051.

Community members may also reach out to the following Blessed to be a Blessing Board Members: Lois Frank, Nycole Colbert, Mala Toney, Lana Turner and Tiffany Hamilton.

Hamilton will also have tickets available for sale at Total Choice Credit Union on U.S. 51 in LaPlace.

The annual Backpack Extravaganza will be held July 17 at the St. John Community Center in LaPlace and on July 31 at the Lafon Performing Arts Center in Luling.