QHotels supports foster children, local law enforcement

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 8, 2021

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LAPLACE — The QHotels management team got into the giving spirit this Christmas season with donations to Child Advocacy Services and the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office bulletproof vest fund.

For the past six years, QHotels President Vimal Patel and his team have fulfilled Christmas wish lists for children in foster care in every parish where the company has a presence.

There were more than 200 gifts for foster children under the QHotels tree this year. Fourteen of the gifts were for foster children in St. John Parish. Gifts are also being distributed to St. Tammy Parish, Terrebonne Parish, and Calcasieu Parish, where more than 100 children are in foster care this Christmas season.

The children range in age from infants to teenagers, and individualized wish lists are given to the QHotels team each year. Although QHotels’ LaPlace locations have been shut down since Hurricane Ida struck the region on August 29, it was important to Vimal Patel to continue the Christmas tradition and provide a sense of normalcy for children who have had their lives turned upside down.

“We are continuing the tradition. Especially with COVID and the hurricane, I think it matters more than ever before to make sure we are able to contribute,” Vimal Patel said.

Audrey Alexander, lead advocate supervisor, arrived at the QHotels in LaPlace Monday morning to collect the donations along with advocate supervisor Jodi Luna of Child Advocacy Service’s Luling regional office.

Alexander shared that many foster families were displaced by Hurricane Ida. While this year has presented unique challenges, there is always a need for community support to achieve the best outcomes for foster children across the region.

“All children deserve to open up gifts and be surprised for Christmas. What these donors do is give the opportunity for children in foster care to have that same special experience,” Alexander said.

While some may donate books or hygiene essentials during the Christmas season, Luna said children in foster care are just as deserving of the toys that their friends have.

Community members who would like to volunteer as a Court Appointed Special Advocate or support foster children in the region can contact Child Advocacy Services at 985-902-9583 or by visiting childadv.org.

Just before the Child Advocacy Services presentation, Sheriff Mike Tregre and Major Tanner Mangano of the St. John Sheriff’s Office arrived at the QHotels headquarters to receive a $5,000 check for the bulletproof vest fund.

QHotels CEO Kevin Patel spearheaded the donation after reading about the bulletproof vest fund in the SJSO annual report.

“Anytime we need the Sheriff’s Office’s assistance, they have helped us,” Kevin Patel said. “Right now, Entergy is behind on fixing out parking lot lights, so (SJSO) will make rounds on our property at night.”

According to Sheriff Tregre, bulletproof vests need to be replaced approximately every five years and cost up to $600 to $800 a piece. Major Mangano added that the SJSO needs to replace a few vests that were lost during Hurricane Ida.

Once the new vests are purchased, donors will be able to personally hand them to deputies.

“It’s much more meaningful when it comes from businesses or citizens. I remember working here without a vest. Now, times the way they are, bulletproof vests have proven to save the lives of police officers, and the families of those police officers very much appreciate their loved one having some level of protection,” Tregre said. “When the community steps up like this, it tells me we are doing a good job. It builds morale and helps our guys feel they are appreciated when the community is supporting them.”