How this year changed me...

This year has changed me. The sheer devastation. The people I’ve met. The lives impacted by a hot meal provided by friends like you. I want to do more. I need your help. Please see below. -Gary

As we come to the end of this year, I have been reflecting on all that we’ve seen...

From tornadoes in Alabama to wildfires in California, our teams have literally been coast-to-coast responding to disasters, providing hot meals to those in need.

It became apparent that thousands were still suffering greatly on the Florida Panhandle in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, so we went back in March. And then we stayed, all summer and through the fall, serving tens of thousands of meals.

After Hurricane Dorian all but wiped out two entire islands in the Bahamas, we immediately responded. The devastation there was as bad as I have ever seen. Entire communities were leveled! More than 70,000 meals later, Mercy Chefs has played a key role in that nation’s recovery, and now we’re gearing up to greatly expand our efforts next year.

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Empty stares and hollow eyes

The hardest thing about returning during the holidays to a community hit hard by a tornado or hurricane is seeing the empty stares and hollow eyes.

During what should be a time of great joy, people whose lives have been turned upside down by a disaster are still very much living the disaster even weeks, months, and in some cases years after a storm hits.

+ + Smiles are returning...

This week in Florida as we served hot meals to families who are still recovering from Hurricane Michael, I noticed fewer of those empty stares than one year ago. We're starting to see some life come back into the folks here. Slowly, hope is being restored.

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Critical Need

I need your help today or this weekend if possible. Our team is still pressing forward with our holiday outreaches (another takes place today in Dallas and this weekend on the Florida Panhandle). But as of this morning, we are still SHORT of our goal for our Year-End Matching Challenge.

Can you help? Your support right now will help us provide hot Christmas dinners while we get ready for expanding outreaches in the coming weeks. Go here to make your best possible tax-deductible gift, and see below for more details.

God bless!

Gary LeBlanc

P.S. Remember... every dollar you give will be DOUBLED in impact by this special Year-End Matching Challenge until we reach the goal. A $30 gift doubles to $60; $50 has the impact of $100; $100 becomes $200 in impact. Go here to help:

Click here for more information from our earlier update.

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You helped make this child's Christmas!

This past weekend, I met another child who stole my heart...

Our Mercy Chefs team was in Panama City to serve the dear folks still struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Thanks to your faithful partnership, we were able to provide a beautiful Christmas dinner and bring the joy of the season to these children and their families. I served as “Santa Chef” as we gave gifts to all the children and gift cards to their parents.

It was an amazing time. There were tears of thankfulness because many of these families likely were not going to be able to have much of a celebration this Christmas.

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No holiday dinner....

Tomorrow, we're serving hot holiday meals to disaster victims in Florida who still need our help! This may be the only holiday meal they have this Christmas season. We can use your help. Go here to donate, and see below.  --Gary

It's always humbling when we hear stories like this.

This Thanksgiving, we returned to Beaumont, Texas -- a community that was hit hard by flooding this fall. Many families were forced from their homes and into shelters, and Mercy Chefs was there to provide hot meals. Many of those same folks who had sought relief in shelters and had received Mercy Chefs meals came back for our Thanksgiving outreach.

The reality is, when a community faces a disaster, it can take months and even years to recover. That's precisely the case for a husband and wife who told the local news that "without the food that [Mercy Chefs] provided us today, we probably wouldn’t have had a Thanksgiving dinner."

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This child's smile...

We are heading into the busiest two weeks of our Christmas meal outreach -- a time when Mercy Chefs wlll provide thousands of hot meals to disaster victims and needy children and families.

This weekend, we'll be in Panama City for a Holiday Celebration meal at our Beacon Of Hope kitchen that has served as our base of operations since early summer. As always, it's the children who steal my heart. I met this little girl last year at one of our post-disaster Christmas events.
 Just to put a smile on a child's face during the Christmas season makes it all worthwhile!

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Personal

I’m coming to you with a personal request...

Specifically, I need your help between now and the end of this year.

That’s because some faithful friends of Mercy Chefs have stepped forward and extended a $40,000 Matching Challenge Grant to Mercy Chefs that we must meet by December 31. This Challenge also DOUBLES the impact of every dollar you donate right now!

This Year-End Challenge Grant is a godsend because it comes as we finish up one of the most rewarding seasons of outreach in our history and as our opportunities to feed “body and soul” are growing exponentially -- beyond anything we have ever imagined.

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Wow!

First of all, THANKS to everyone who helped with our Giving Tuesday goal of funding 2,500 holiday meals for disaster victims and hurting children and families. I'm thrilled to report that we met our goal, which will be a great help as we prepare for the busiest part of our holiday meal outreaches. (If you didn't have an opportunity to support Mercy Chefs on Giving Tuesday and want to help fund five, 10, 20, 40 or even 100 full holiday meals, go here to make your tax-deductible gift.)

I have another update. As you may know by now, I have been selected as one of six finalists for the 2020 Eagle Rare Life Award sponsored by the Garden & Gun website. 
The winner of the award will be decided by the results of an online poll (through this Friday) with the charity of the winner's choice (in my case, Mercy Chefs!) receiving a $50,000 donation!

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Three days TRAPPED in their attic!

When I looked at their house, I couldn't believe they survived...

We were on Grand Bahama Island meeting some of the folks who had somehow managed to escape with their lives after Hurricane Dorian had bombarded their island with 200+ MPH winds for days.

This family -- seven people in all -- had just moved into their house a year earlier. But as the storm hit, the water rose so high that they were forced into their attic where they were trapped... for three days and two nights!

Things got so desperate that they managed to contact loved ones and told them they weren't going to survive the storm.

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Help feed hurting kids on Giving Tuesday!

Today is GIVING TUESDAY, and this year we've set a goal of fully sponsoring up to 2,500 of the meals for disaster victims, children and needy families that we will be serving this Christmas season and in the coming weeks.

Each Christmas, Mercy Chefs serves thousands of holiday meals with all the fixings. Our Christmas-season outreaches this year kicked off this week with multiple events near our headquarters in Virginia, including an outreach to needy school children. Later this month, we'll be in Florida and Texas for special Christmas events before we head to the Bahamas for a week-long series of events reaching out to hurricane victims on Grand Bahama Island.

Will you help us meet our Giving Tuesday goal of fully funding 2,500 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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