Texas ‘Angels’ deliver furniture, home goods to Ida survivors

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, August 24, 2022

LAPLACE — Angels Serving With a Purpose founder Virginia Valentine and a group of volunteers from Texas traveled into LaPlace last week to deliver clothing, a truckload of furniture and a plethora of home goods to survivors of Hurricane Ida who are still putting their lives together one year after the storm.

The giveaway took place August 19 at 321 Events – Skye the Event Place with assistance from owner/operator Lachandra Morris and her staff.

Angels Serving With a Purpose is guided by a mission of serving those who don’t have the strength, resources or means to help themselves during disasters, emergencies or less fortunate situations.

Valentine dug into her own pockets to purchase donations while visiting antique, clothing, home décor and other specialty stores in the weeks leading up to the event. While it isn’t always easy to coordinate large-scale distributions without grant funding, Valentine is assured that God always makes a way.

“I grew up picking cotton as a young girl. We were taught to love people, care for people, and share with people. As I get older, I do it more,” Valentine said. “Plus, I live by the Biblical principles. God says that to whom much is given, much is required. I bless you so that you may be a blessing to others.”

Angels Serving With a Purpose was formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey when Valentine decided to step in and purchase furniture for families without the financial means to bounce back from losing their homes and belongings. The nonprofit expanded across Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina and other areas rebounding from natural disasters.

Valentine is already planning additional giveaways in Mississippi, Arkansas and Kentucky. She has kept an eye on Hurricane Ida recovery in St. John the Baptist Parish and surrounding areas over the past year. Driving through the area, she saw the lingering impacts of the storm, from roofs still patched with blue tarps to metal pieces hanging off of severely damaged buildings on the main Airline Highway corridor.

“People still need help. I try to give name brand items to the less fortunate because they can’t afford it. I was taught not to give what you wouldn’t want,” Valentine said.

The inside of Skye the Event Place Grand Venue resembled a showroom stocked with dining sets, sofas, entertainment centers, wall art and more.

Merlene Daring was among the locals waiting outside the venue before the doors opened. Hurricane Ida stole everything from her home in the Riverlands subdivision in LaPlace. It took her nine months to get back inside her home at her own expense.

“I had to throw out everything – sofas, beds. There were snakes in the house and rats and roaches. It was a mess. I was living in and out of my car, and the insurance company didn’t give me a dime for a place to live,” Daring said. “I’m back in now. I’m waiting on insurance to reimburse me. They don’t work with people, so I have to get a lawyer.”

Jackie Charles heard about the giveaway from her niece. She received some damage to her home in the Belle Pointe subdivision in LaPlace, and she knows many who lost all of their belongings during the storm.

“You pay your premiums every year, and when something happens, they want to give you the runaround, ducking and dodging you,” Charles said.

It’s been a rough two years for Charles and countless others in the area, as both the hurricane and the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on families across the region. Charles said a bright spot in the devastation has been the community organizations that go above and beyond to uplift others in a time of need.

As the Angels Serving With a Purpose event was being prepared for the public, just across the parking lot, cars lined up in front of New Wine Christian Fellowship for a grocery distribution.

“It’s very important to have events like this,” Charles said. “It means a lot because with the way the economy is right now, everything is high. Everything is expensive.”

Angels Serving With a Purpose partnered with several other area organizations to make last week’s giveaway a success, including the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office, churches in Texas and Louisiana, Hannah Chapter No. 12 O.E.S., Thompson Delivery – Houston and Morton Masonic Lodge #72.