“When you lose everything, you don’t realize you need something until you go to use it. As soon as we get in cleaning supplies they are gone in minutes,” said Suzanne Shaffer of Team Braithwaite Foundation. “It’s a relief for the people to be able to get some items they desperately need.”
Shaffer’s husband, Jesse Sr., and son, Jesse Jr., along with other community members, led the rescue of 120 people from Isaac’s flooding in Plaquemines Parish when a levee known as “the wall” was overtopped during the storm. Jesse Jr. used technology to identify those who needed to be rescued. At one point, he had 80 texts with addresses and locations of more individuals who needed to be rescued.
Last weekend, Lynn Oaks School, where volunteers had organized donations collected by the Team Braithwaite Foundation to be distributed, was burglarized of nearly $15,000 in items like diapers, food and cleaning supplies.
“We hope to replace the $15,000 worth of supplies stolen that was meant for the families as they recovered from Isaac,” said Wendy Waren, LRA VP of Communications. “By organizing this drive, we hope to remind people, that outside the city, there’s still a lot of people struggling and we want to do our part to help those families recover.”
This effort was inspired by LRA member Greg Reggio of the Taste Buds, which operates Zea Rotisserie & Grill and Semolina Restaurants, in advance of the “Taste Buds for Braithwaite” event, September 30. Reggio has organized similar relief events for families impacted by the 2011 tornadoes in Joplin, Mo. and Tuscaloosa, Ala. for which he was named LRA Restaurateur of the Year in 2011 and received the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Restaurant Neighbor Award earlier this year.
NRA President/CEO Dawn Sweeney remarked of the Taste Buds, “We are committed to positively enhancing the quality of life for all we serve, and philanthropic activities are an important part of this mission. The Taste Buds have provided much needed relief to communities impacted by devastating disasters last year, underscoring that restaurants are often on the front lines in emergency response.”
Following Hurricane Ike in 2008, the LRA’s Greater New Orleans Chapter members fed more than 1,200 residents of the flood-ravaged Lafitte at its Town Hall. In 2010, the LRA organized more than 20 New Orleans restaurants who fed the Grand Isle community of 300 residents following the BP Oil Spill.
LRA staff and students from Archbishop Rummel High School will be on hand next Thursday to take donations and pack them into boxes generously donated by Whole Foods Market.