Giving Tuesday Goal: 2,000 Meals!

Today marks the eighth year of Giving Tuesday -- a nationwide effort to raise funds for non-profit organizations during the holiday season. 

This year, Mercy Chefs has set a Giving Tuesday goal of fully funding up to 2,000 of the holiday meals for disaster victims, children and needy families that we will be serving this Christmas season.

Each Christmas, Mercy Chefs serves thousands of holiday meals with all the fixings. This is one of the most important seasons of the year for our mission -- especially for the thousands of children who will experience what may be their only Christmas dinner and Christmas party at a Mercy Chefs event.

Will you help us meet our Giving Tuesday goal of fully funding 2,000 of our holiday meals? Simply click here or on the image below to help sponsor Christmas meals and continue other vital Mercy Chefs outreaches:

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Hurricane Victims Living In "Tent City"

On Day Two of our Thanksgiving Weekend outreach to Florida hurricane victims, heartbreak hit our entire team. Our staff prepared a second round of about 400 holiday meals and served them at a makeshift "tent city" that has been set up at a church parking lot. This tent city consists of displaced workers, the homeless, and many families who still cannot return to their homes and have nowhere else to turn. So they are literally living in tents. Here is my video report;

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Florida Thanksgiving Report

Thanks to everyone who partnered with Mercy Chefs to help make it possible for our team to serve 5,000 holiday meals to Florida hurricane victims this past Thanksgiving weekend.

The weekend was even more than we imagined. On Day One, thanks to you, our team served about 4,500 holiday meals across four different sites to families still hurting from the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael. Through the pouring rain, our chefs prepared a delicious menu of sliced honey glazed ham, turkey, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, green beans, fresh salad, cake, and a buttered roll. Then the sun came out and we started serving meals.

+ + "What they are doing is amazing"

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Bobby Bowden on the Florida crisis

Former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden shares his thoughts on the Florida hurricane and Mercy Chefs' role in helping the recovery.

We still need your help! Go here to help sponsor meals to Florida hurricane victims.

 

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Headed back to Florida

We're headed back to Florida, and I need your help.

Here's what happened.

Ever since we left, I have been in close contact with city officials in Panama City, Calloway and Lynn Haven, and they have been asking us to return and help soften the blow of the ongoing recovery during the holidaysThe holidays are the toughest time of all for folks who have lost everything or are still in the midst of extensive repairs -- as most people in these communities are!

+ + Why I must go back...

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Wow. Just Wow!

kidsI'm so humbled and grateful.

On Thursday, I shared with you about our heartache of leaving Florida after more than three weeks on the ground following one of the most devastating hurricanes we have witnessed. But our physical and human resources were simply exhausted, and we were still dealing with a financial shortfall from this deployment, and especially from our final push of 15,000 meals this week.

Well, I heard from my staff that many dear friends stepped forward to ensure we met our needs for this final week of deployment. In fact, the generosity of Mercy Chefs partners exceeded our needs for this week, allowing us to apply funds to the overall cost of serving these 100,000 meals here.

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Painful goodbye

Yesterday was one of the most painful goodbyes I've experienced since we started Mercy Chefs.

After more than three weeks on the ground and having served over 100,000 meals, our human and physical resources were simply exhausted. Even this week, we saw long lines of people waiting for hot meals from our Mercy Chefs team.

And the people have been so grateful for our hot meals and ministry. 

We're still receiving comments about the quality of the food we were able to serve! Hot, nutritious meals. Fresh salads and vegetables. REAL FOOD at a time when many had gone days without a hot meal, never mind a meal prepared by a master chef!

But leaving was very, very hard....

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This 92-year-old man stopped by

Yesterday, a 92-year-old Navy veteran and his daughter came by again. He uses two canes to get around, and they have come for meals just about every day. Three weeks after the hurricane hit, these dear folks still needed our help. I also spent time with an Army vet and his family who were so grateful for Mercy Chefs' meals.

Many people with pressing physical needs have been coming to us in recent days. Just yesterday, seven people came to us for a meal using a walker. We prayed for a woman and her son. They didn't know what to do as she was on her last oxygen tank, and many medical facilities are still closed.

We've also seen family after family with young kids coming for meals.

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FL Hurricane Puzzle

It's been puzzling to say the least...

I can say that I have not seen anything like this in 12 years of serving with Mercy Chefs. But what's puzzling is, the national media stopped covering this disaster days ago. Yet the people here are still struggling greatly and the human suffering is heartbreaking.

From Friday through Sunday, Mercy Chefs served about 18,000 meals as demand didn't let up at all. Our meals went out across the region, including to one apartment community that was devastated by the storm. Roofs ripped off. Windows blown out. It was so bad that the city condemned the buildings, but the residents keep coming back because they simply have no place else to go. 

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Video Update From Florida

Here is Gary LeBlanc's update from the Florida Panhandle:

 

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