When Send Relief began coordinating the Hurricane Ida disaster response, there was no way of knowing how long relief projects would take and if supplies would last through the long-term recovery efforts.
Thankfully, several corporations stepped up to work with Send Relief and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) and send help to the hopeless.
Diversey contacted SBDR National Director Sam Porter to donate four truckloads of their disinfectant Restorox—nearly $400,000 worth of product—to disaster response projects in Pennsylvania, Texas, Louisiana and New York in the wake of Hurricane Ida.
That same week, Send Relief and SBDR teams were experiencing a shortage of masks due to the influx of disaster response needs both in the U.S. and abroad. Project directors were beginning to worry the depletion would impact our work when, just a few days later, Lowe’s reached out to Send Relief’s Appalachian Ministry Center Director Rob Allen to donate nearly $1 million worth of KN-95 masks, empowering Send Relief to resource Send Relief and SBDR volunteers.
When Send Relief and SBDR gap feeding programs began experiencing difficulties because of supply chain breakdowns, Tyson stepped in and sent 40,000 pounds of food to various feeding sites across the South.
“Send Relief and SBDR have become trusted organizations to these corporations,” said Send Relief Vice President, Josh Benton. “They knew when they made those donations and requests, based on our reputation and relationship with them, that their products would go to the proper people in need.”
These partnerships culminated into life-saving assistance when the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans lost power during Hurricane Ida. Thousands of vulnerable, immunocompromised children were put at risk during the storm’s power outage and, while Home Depot was ready to to donate fans and generators to keep the hospital running, they had no way of getting the equipment from their Ohio stores to Louisiana.
That’s when a Home Depot representative contacted one of our ministry center directors, Rob Allen, to ask if there was any way he could help transport the equipment, as their trucks were all in use at the time.
Ten minutes later, he received a phone call dispatching a Send Relief semi with a driver willing to volunteer his time to drive the supplies down the dangerous and flooded roads of Louisiana within 48 hours.
The 72-year-old volunteer driver, Eddie Byers, is a former volunteer dental unit driver for Send Relief and had kept his semi certifications up to date in retirement specifically for scenarios like this.
“This is a mission field for me. I knew I could help—that’s what I’ve done all my life is drive, so I want to use what talents I have to share the gospel. The Lord gave me a second chance after a near-death experience 30 years ago, and not everyone gets that second chance. I drive not in service to a particular mission but because Jesus commanded that we make disciples—that’s why I volunteer,” Byers stated.
When Byers arrived in Louisiana, there was still no power or operating traffic lights, making roads difficult to navigate and GPS systems nearly impossible to follow. Thankfully, the director of the Children’s Hospital was able to stay on the phone with him and guide him to the hospital just in time.
“Nobody has ever done anything like this for us,” said Mike Daniel of Home Depot. “We’re usually the ones giving, but the way Send Relief responded to this need has been beyond belief. When I sat before the State Directors in Tennessee, I told them we were committed to our partnership, and it was an honor to serve the Southern Baptist Convention. That statement has never been more true than today.”
Published December 3, 2021