CORTEZ – The Blessing Bags Project, the Swordfish Grill and the Cortez and Bradenton communities have teamed up to assist with the hurricane recovery efforts taking place in Lake Charles, La.
Hurricane Laura made landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 27 and did significant damage to many Lake Charles homes and businesses. Residents are also dealing with the loss of electricity and water as well as supply shortages.
The supplies gathered by The Blessing Bags Project and the Swordfish Grill will be delivered Wednesday morning to the Waters Edge Gathering church in Lake Charles.
On Tuesday afternoon, Swordfish General Manager Bob Slicker and Managers Adam Sears and Tom Polch are leaving for Lake Charles towing a 6 x 12 trailer filled with donated supplies. The bed of Polch’s diesel pickup truck will also be filled with donated supplies.
The donated supplies include charcoal grills, charcoal, coolers, tents, hammers, tarps, flashlights, work gloves, toilet paper and paper towels, personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies and more.
Community members began dropping off donated supplies at the Swordfish Grill on Wednesday and those efforts concluded Saturday, with a few more supplies donated on Sunday.
“A bunch of people helped and the whole community stepped up with supplies,” Slicker said Sunday evening.
The Blessing Bags Project conducted an ongoing online fundraiser that has thus far raised approximately $1,700. Blessing Bags Project President Betsy Plante said that money was used to purchase grills, coolers, flashlights, personal hygiene products and other supplies that were later delivered to the Swordfish Grill.
Plante received $1,500 in additional cash donations from local churches and individuals. That money was used to purchase $50 Walmart gift cards to be delivered by Slicker, Sears and Polch.
The Blessing Bags Project also filled 250 backpacks with personal hygiene products and also boxed up school supplies to be delivered by the Swordfish Grill trio.
According to Slicker, Cortez Bait & Seafood Market Manager James “Wyre” Lee secured a pallet full of supplies donated by John Hargreaves, president of the Maintenance Too Paper Company in Bradenton that supplies paper products to the fish market.
Some of the weatherproof and waterproof supplies received from Hargreaves and others were then reorganized and placed on pallets that were loaded onto local resident Joe Cadmus’ flatbed truck. According to Plante, Cadmus delivered those supplies to the Waters Edge Gathering church at 2:45 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
“That was a Godsend for us, because we were able to put the heavier stuff on Joe’s truck. When he called, his was perfect because we were just trying to figure out what we were going to do about a bigger truck,” Slicker said.
Slicker said he spoke with Cadmus Sunday evening.
“He said they don’t expect power for three weeks and most all the streets are closed with downed power lines. There’s no phone service. He said a block from the church it’s just foundations of houses and buildings. He said the people there feel left out because no one is talking about them. The average income for the people that live there is about $22,000 and they need help,” Slicker said.
“If people go to The Blessing Bags Project website and give money we will continue to send gift cards to the church. There’s a Walmart close to town that’s still open. People are living in tents and the gift cards will help a lot,” Slicker said.
When asked why they’re doing this, Plante said, “This all started because a woman I know on Facebook, Kelli Stawecki, lives in Lake Charles and has a homeless ministry there – and now she’s homeless too because of the hurricane. The people there need help. They have no water, no electricity and they’re homeless.”