As you know, last week in Panama City, Mercy Chefs was privileged to serve 4,600 people at a special Back-To-School event for which we had only planned to serve 3,000. But God added the increase to your generosity and we were able to feed every single person, with some left over!
Each time I am in Panama City, I hear story after story of how Hurricane Michael has left a profound impact on this community and the psyche of the people here. The stories that pull at my heart the most come from the children, many of whom are homeless due to the storm and are still struggling with the reality of what happened.
For example, a young boy came to our "Beacon Of Hope" center with his family for a meal. Since our staff also provides activities for the children, this boy went over to our coloring station where I was standing. First he drew a house. Then, he added a ladder on the outside of the house. I was puzzled, so I asked him why he added the ladder. The boy's reply broke my heart:
“In my new house I want to have a ladder because we don’t have a ladder right now. Our roof is broken. If I have a ladder, we can fix our roof.”
I've often shared with you the statistics of the devastation in Panama City. Forty percent of the buildings were still uninhabitable months after the storm hit. An estimated 5,000 children still have no permanent place to call home. Seventy-two million tons of debris remains, much of which is still causing a health and safety hazard. But those numbers pale in comparison to meeting a little boy who draws a picture of a home with a ladder on the outside, because they need a ladder to fix his roof -- so he can be back in his home.
This week in Panama City, we're formally announcing the extension of Mercy Chefs' outreach to this community into the fall season. We'll be partnering with the school system to provide meals to the most at-risk kids in this district. And there are thousands of them! That means I am relying on the faithful and generous partnership of friends like you to help us help these kids who are still in crisis months after the hurricane hit.
Can I count on your partnership as we launch this important, new effort to provide thousands of meals this fall to hurting kids? Go here to make your tax-deductible gift to help Mercy Chefs in Florida and to continue other vital efforts:
This week, in addition to our work in Florida, a Mercy Chefs team is also in Moffett, Oklahoma, feeding the volunteers who are rebuilding a school that was destroyed by a massive flood this spring. The team is rushing to get that school up and running this month as the new school year gets under way. In addition, my team is launching an entirely new program called "Dinner in a SNAP" that puts the reality of hunger in America in a fresh perspective that I believe has the potential to impact many communities.
In all, Mercy Chefs is doing more to reach more and serve more than at any time in our history. Each outreach is an opportunity to feed "body and soul" and make a lasting difference in hurting lives and communities. And each meal we serve is made possible by the generosity of friends like you..
Thank you so much for your prayers, and thanks for your ongoing financial partnership. God bless you!
Gary LeBlanc, Founder
P.S. I love seeing smiles on the faces of the people we are serving, especially the children. Your prayers and financial partnership are helping us bless and support so many young children and families that have been impacted by disasters or are struggling to make ends meet. With our outreach on the Florida Panhandle expanding into the fall, we need your help! It costs about $2.50 to serve a meal. Perhaps you can sponsor 20 meals ($50), 40 meals ($100), or more. Thank you so much! Go here: