Today, we served a full breakfast and lunch to emergency workers and volunteers. This weekend is critical. Also, the folks here are talking about holding a memorial service next week for the family that lost seven members. Their church is too small, so the venue where Mercy Chefs is based will likely host the reception following the service and, yes, we will be there to provide the meals should this come to pass.
+ + A family's heart-wrenching search through the rubble...
I want to share the story of one family's search through the rubble. It so typifies what is happening all across this region.
One of the volunteer chainsaw teams we are feeding didn't end up using their chainsaws yesterday because they spent the day helping a family scour the hillside 300 yards behind where their house had once stood. Their house was completely destroyed down to the foundation. Nothing left behind by the massive tornado and the 170 MPH winds.
The family members were looking for anything they could retrieve. While digging through the wreckage that had been carried three lengths of a football field away, they finally began to find little pieces of a home forever lost... Parts of a hand-built bed. Some pieces from quilts made by a grandmother. Fragments from the house's framing.
Another family could only find a bed sheet. A single bed sheet. They plan to make pillows out of that bed sheet so the family can remember the home and the loved ones lost.
This is why we're here. To offer these families and the volunteer teams who are literally walking side-by-side with the victims a hot meal and a tangible expression of love and support from good people across the country.
When you sponsor five, ten, 20, 50, or 100 meals, your support is helping us bring practical relief in the form of a chef-prepared, high-quality meal. I wish you could see expressions of heartfelt gratitude we hear from folks whose lives have been so devastated and the relief workers who are standing on the front lines of the recovery. Time and time again, the Lord shows up in amazing ways when we offer a hot meal.
If you can help, I would be honored and greatly appreciative. I only ask because I see the need, and I see the fruit of your generosity. Mercy Chefs' needs right now our real. Our meal count here is increasing, while at the same time we get ready for our busiest weeks on the Florida Panhandle. All I ask is that you do what's on your heart. Go here to make your tax-deductible gift to Mercy Chefs, and we'll put it to work here helping with the Alabama tornado recovery as well as in Florida and wherever needed to help those who are hurting:
Finally, as always, please be in prayer for Lee County. This is a small, rural community that is clinging to each other for support and comfort. It is quite humbling to come alongside such a strong community as they begin the healing process. I have heard over and over that they never expected to have it happen to them. Many here have volunteered in other storms to help others, never believing it would be them who would one day need someone else to help them.
Thanks in advance, and God bless you.
Gary LeBlanc, Founder
P.S. The photo above is taken from a short video by one of the church volunteers shot here right along Lee County Road 100 -- not far from our location. In many areas, the destruction is complete. Even though news reports and emergency managers report all missing persons are accounted for, local residents fear there still may be many missing who have no family member to report them. The next few days are critical in so many ways. Please prayerfully consider how you can help -- even if you already sent a gift. On behalf of the emergency workers, volunteers, and the families, thank you and God bless!