When one local family had the idea to collect money and supplies to help Hurricane Laura victims in Lake Charles, they said they never expected what would happen next – over $10,000 raised in just five days.
Brittany Hyatt, who lives with her wife Lauren Hyatt and their son in Luling, said her family, including dad Wayne Schexnayder, has done cookouts for disaster victims in the past.
“We are really good friends with some residents out there,” Brittany said of the Lake Charles area. “Our friends Elizabeth and Jason Machulski own the Corner Market in downtown Lake Charles. They stayed for the storm, and Elizabeth and Lauren were talking and Lauren asked what we could do.”
While her dad started planning what to cook, Brittany said she and Lauren, as well as a host of friends and family members, started to organize supplies.
“It just skyrocketed from there,” Brittany said.
After Brittany, who works at St. Charles Parish Hospital, talked to hospital CEO Terrell Neal and the hospital’s volunteer coordinator, information was sent out to all of the hospital employees about how they could assist in the relief efforts.
“People from the hospital donated, and it was sent out to some other Ochsner employees,” Brittany said. “Supplies and money were donated, and I created a Facebook post that I make public and sent out details of what we were looking for.”
People started shipping supplies to the Hyatts through Amazon Prime, Brittany said, adding drop off locations were organized in Luling, Metairie and Kenner.
“It was just crazy,” she said. “There were several moving parts. All of the money went directly to purchase supplies.”
Last week the Hyatts and several friends and family members drove to Lake Charles where the group served 1,500 plate lunches and handed out supplies.
“We loaded a 16-foot Penske truck with all of our supplies and cooking gear,” Brittany said. “My dad cooked out there on site. We served jambalaya, white beans, corn and some bread. We also had cold drinks and homemade desserts.”
The crew set up in downtown Lake Charles, which Brittany said is right in the middle of where all of the workers are.
“I feel like the destruction hasn’t really been covered very well,” she said. “There was glass all in the street and businesses have their whole roofs caved in. There is debris and trees and branches everywhere and street signs down … there’s also a lack of electricity and running water. Some things were completely destroyed without even having flood water. It was emotional to see because I hadn’t seen a lot of news coverage.”
Brittany said several friends and family members, including her mom Dori Schexnayder and family friend Theresea Matherne, were instrumental in helping to organize everything and executing the giveaway.
“Anybody that we had come to get food was able to get supplies,” Brittany said, adding the supplies included toothbrushes, toothpaste, tire plugs, tarps, hammers, hand sanitizer, adult diapers, dog treats, coloring books for kids and a bevy of other supplies. “We asked them when they were in line for food if they needed anything and would get it for them while they were getting food.”
Brittany said everyone who received food and supplies were very thankful, and that a lot of Lake Charles business owners were also out trying to do as much as they could for the community.
“People were there from all backgrounds … who came from every socioeconomic class … we were serving workers to people who lost everything,” Brittany said. “It was really nice to see people coming together to serve the greater good … that was touching.”