Dillard’s Donation Makes a Difference in Baton Rouge

By Rebecca Nichols | rebecca.nichols@uss.salvationarmy.org
August 31, 2016


Dillard's Donation Makes a Difference in Baton Rouge
August 31, 2016
Rebecca Nichols | rebecca.nichols@uss.salvationarmy.org

Baton Rouge, LA— Sometimes there isn’t a way to properly express gratitude. There isn’t a hug big enough or a “thank you” loud enough. I’ve experienced that feeling so many times working for The Salvation Army. I’m rarely surprised these days by the love we get from the community, the love that’s shared between neighbors, the love that still exists in our world. It’s comforting to know I can expect it now, but it’s still often too big to put into words. Even when it’s hard to find, I know it’s there because I see it every day where I work. I know there’s hope.

Within a few days of the water rising in South Louisiana, I got an email from Mark Souter with Dillard’s department store. He simply introduced himself and said, “We want to help.”

These are always the most comforting words to hear during a disaster situation, and once I spoke with Mark in person, I really understood how much they wanted to help. Dillard’s wanted to donate 25,000 units of new clothing for flood victims but they also asked how we would distribute it. This isn’t a luxury we can often offer to those we’re assisting, so I told him I wasn’t sure just yet.

Having seen our warehousing site, Mark knew we didn’t have racks or shelves for clothing and offered to send his people in to rail out the walls. Only one problem, there was no air in the part of the mall we were utilizing for our distribution center. I told him I didn’t think we could fix the air conditioners, mechanically or financially, and he said, “Let me see what I can do.” I then got a text from a volunteer coordinator working at the warehouse… She said the outlets weren’t working either so we couldn’t even plug in large fans. Mark said, “Let me see what I can do.” I asked Mark if he could loan us some racks to put the clothing on… He said, “Let me see what I can do.”

This became a massive job, but also one very special to The Salvation Army. He sent us an electrician to fix the outlets and air conditioning, at no charge to us. He sent us 150 racks on which to place the clothing, at no charge to us. He sent us half a million dollars in clothes to place on those racks …at no charge to anyone. He was one of our many heroes during this flood event. And because he was our hero, he became the hero of thousands of people we’ve helped with that Dillard’s blessing. I jokingly texted Mark that we loved him on the day he solved so many problems for us, but it wasn’t really a joke. There was love all around. We loved because he loved. I see the love and there is hope.

Gift from The Walmart Foundation boosts The Salvation Army’s efforts in Southern Louisiana

walmartJACKSON, MS (August 29, 2016) – The Salvation Army’s mission of Doing The Most Good is only possible when communities and community partners step up alongside our officers, employees and volunteers to make a difference in  people’s lives. Those partners are needed even more so when disasters strike.

This is the case in Southern Louisiana where 30 inches of rain fall led to historic flooding in places like Baton Rouge, Denham Springs, Gonzales and Lafayette just to name a few. The Wal-Mart Foundation has stepped up and provide a $100,000 gift to boost The Salvation Army’s efforts as we serve meals and drinks and provide food boxes, cleaning supplies, and comfort kits.

“This is such a generous gift that will help so many folks recovering from the massive flooding in Louisiana,” said Major Steve Morris, Divisional Commander, The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. “We are happy The Walmart Foundation is standing with us to make a huge impact in the lives of those who need us the most.”

“As our customers and associates continue to recover from this devastating flood, we are donating $100,000 to the Salvation Army to assist with relief efforts on the ground.  We will continue to partner closely with non-profit partners to fulfill our $1.5M commitment in Louisiana, supporting those hard hit by this disaster,” said Lee Siler, Senior Manager, Global Disaster Response and Preparedness

To date, The Salvation Army has served over 125,000 meals, over 150,000 drinks and our volunteers and employees have worked over 10,000 hours in support of disaster recovery efforts in Louisiana.

Volunteers Arrive As Salvation Army Starts Supplies Hand Out

dillard university student volunteers louisiana flood

Baton Rouge resident, Vanessa Yates, stands outside a vacant part of the Cortana Mall now turned into The Salvation Army’s distribution center waiting for her name to be called.  Yates says her home was under eight feet of water just a couple days ago and now she’s trying to clean up. After a few more minutes, a volunteer brings her a case of water, cleaning supplies, and a food box.

“It’s good to find people who care,” said Yates. “It means a lot, I was in tears cleaning out my home yesterday.”

The process is the same for hundreds of other residents who’ve shown up for help. Numbers tabulated by the state emergency operation center estimate as many as 600,000 people impacted by the historic rainfall and flood.

“This disaster is incredibly widespread,” said Major Ed Binnix, Incident Commander. “But we will be here to feed these folks and get them the supplies they need to make it through this.”

Plus, friends and neighbors are stepping up to stand with The Salvation Army in a big way. Neighbors like 100 students from Dillard University who showed up at the distribution center to help organize supplies for each resident who came by.

“Some of these students are from Baton Rouge,” said Jeremy Carter, Dillard’s Director of Student Leadership.  “We know education combined with community service can make a difference.”

They weren’t shy either, as they dove into piles of donated goods and started creating cleaning kits and food boxes to be handed out.

“Not everyone is as fortunate as we are. It’s very important to make a difference,” said Anwar Robinson, Dillard Resident Life Coordinator.

The Salvation Army depends on the passion and compassion of others, like students who volunteer or residents who show up to donate supplies to truly make a difference in times of unspeakable disaster.


To help those in these flooded areas across Southeast Louisiana, you can donate by going to http://give.salvationarmyusa.org/gulf_coast_floods.

About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for more than 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar The Salvation Army spends is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide.

Father/Son Team Delivers Food and Hope in Baton Rouge Flood

la floods, ketcham, volunteers

The Ketchams make a great team when it comes to disaster response. The father, son duo are one of the most experienced crews working in Baton Rouge this week following historic flooding throughout many parts of Southern Louisiana.

“I know how he wants things…I can anticipate what he wants,” said Ike Ketcham.

Dan drives and Ike navigates. They have worked as a team since Hurricane Gustav.

The pair moved to New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit looking for work in construction. What they found was a way to help those in desperate need.

“We’ve had people try to pay us for the meals we give them off the canteen,” said Dan Ketcham. “I tell them I will only accept a handshake. You can see their surprise first, then the gratitude.”

Despite how “fluid” things seem to go on their canteen, their relationship hasn’t always been so smooth. Not too long ago, Dan was asked to read the bible scripture during church services at the New Orleans Salvation Army. He read from Luke 15…the story of the prodigal son.

“It took me a long time to read that cause my son was lost. I got choked up,” said Ketcham.

Ike saw what that scripture did to his father. Dan says he can’t explain what happened after that but Ike did a one eighty.

At one time, caught up in drugs and alcohol, Ike says The Salvation Army changed his life.

“The Salvation Army gave me the opportunity to change my life,” said Ike Ketcham. “I feel like I’m the luckiest person ever.”

Now, the Ketchams run their “ministry” out of a canteen each time they are called upon.

“I see how people are grateful, and the community is changed. It blows my mind every time we go out,” said Ike.

“The Salvation Army is a family, they welcomed me with open arms, and that’s what I do from the canteen,” says Dan.


To help those in these flooded areas across Southeast Louisiana, you can donate by going to http://give.salvationarmyusa.org/gulf_coast_floods.

About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for more than 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar The Salvation Army spends is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide.

Despite flooding at Baton Rouge Corps, Salvation Army ready to respond

The record rainfall over the last two days in Southeast Louisiana and South Mississippi causing roads to be closed and mandatory evacuations in several communities has not spared the Baton Rouge Salvation Army facilities.

“We were able to move all our response vehicles off our property and to high ground, but unfortunately we will not be able to use our facilities to assist those escaping the rising waters,” said Captain Brett Meredith, Baton Rouge Salvation Army Corps Officer.

Captain Meredith says in the local area around the Corps was hit with twenty inches of rain and more is expected through the weekend. Water has entered the buildings on campus.

“We are all shell shocked right now, but I know we have lots of prayers being lifted up for us, so we will make it through,” said Captain Meredith.

Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Divisional Emergency/Disaster Services Director Terry Lightheart is monitoring the situation, but for now, the rising waters around Baton Rouge are forcing resources to be put on hold until safe passage into the affected areas can be assured.

“The interstate and highways in some areas have been closed for now, but as soon as the water recedes, we will have our canteens rolling in to help not just our Corps but those in the community who need help,” said Lightheart.

Canteens from Biloxi, Mississippi, Jackson, Mississippi, New Orleans, and Alexandria, Louisiana are all on standby and waiting to respond once water levels drop. The Salvation Army does have a disaster liaison working with the Louisiana State Emergency Management Agency monitor the situation.

To help those in these flooded areas across Southeast Louisiana, you can donate by going to http://give.salvationarmyusa.org/gulf_coast_floods.

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About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for more than 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar The Salvation Army spends is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to www.salvationarmyalm.org/batonrouge