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United Way of SWLA helps community despite personal impacts by Hurricane Laura

Published: Oct. 2, 2020 at 7:24 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - For weeks, United Way of Southwest Louisiana has been running their Hurricane Laura relief center in Lake Charles.

“We collect all kinds of donations, whether it’s foods, items, supplies, cleaning supplies, brooms, mops, whatever - bottled water," President and CEO of United Way of Southwest Louisiana Denise Durel said.

For hours on end, people line up to receive help from United Way.

Durel says if you need it, they more than likely have it.

“We received a donation of 1,600 frozen hams, and we also have all of these wonderful produce and things from our friends at Second Harvest. And we’ve got snacks for the kids."

Durel said it’s been an eye-opening experience to see just how many people were impacted by the storm, as volunteers work to serve the community.

“A gentleman just came through, who was a retiree from Fire Stone, and he actually was a pillar club donor of ours,” she said. “So, he gave a significant level for us for years, and he told me today, ‘Now I’m on the receiving end'." Because he again, lost his home, and he’s in need.”

A need that is also felt close to home for the United Way staff.

“It’s been pretty emotional, because like, our entire staff is here every day, and we have some [that] have lost their complete homes."

But despite their own setbacks, the staff still prioritizes their community.

“We’re happy to see and feel that we’re having some ability to help these people regain and have some hope."

Durel said they plan to continue to run the relief center as long as they are needed, but they do need more volunteers. To sign up to volunteer, you can visit the United Way of Southwest Louisiana’s website.

The relief center is now closed on weekends, but it is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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