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California tomato distributor donates 200,000 pounds of product for Hurricane Relief Center
Representatives from United Way of Southwest Louisiana, Morning Star, Sierra Pacific, Union Pacific, the Port of Lake Charles and elected officials celebrate momentous donation benefiting Southwest and Central Louisiana.
LAKE CHARLES, LA, November 4 – United Way of Southwest Louisiana welcomed 200,000 pounds of tomato product on Monday donated from Morning Star, a California-based tomato processing and packing company that is the largest in the world. The railcar-full donation was a collaborative effort between Morning Star, Sierra Pacific, Union Pacific and the Port of Lake Charles and will be distributed via 18-wheeler to the United Way’s Hurricane Relief Center, 2401 6th Street, Lake Charles, LA.
“We got a call kind of challenging us to send a couple pallets here and there,” Robert Henry, Morning Star representative, said. “We got more calls saying, ‘Can you give a little more?’ And we said, ‘Of course, we can. How about a box car?’ We saw a need and we partnered with our good friend Union Pacific to make sure we got the product there.”
Senator Ronnie Johns, district 27, said he was heartened to hear of Morning Star’s desire to help the region. “We feel like sometimes we are forgotten around this country—what we have gone through and what our needs are. This is a real testament to a company in California that has noticed us.”
When he received word of the pending donation, Johns said he knew exactly which local non-profit could manage a donation of such magnitude. “First thing that came to my mind was Ms. Denise Durel…After Hurricane Laura hit here this organization went to work with a lot of recovery efforts. It took a lot coordination. It took a lot of leadership. It took a lot of commitment It took a lot of hard work. And I’ve never seen a lady work as hard as this lady (Durel) right here.”
Nic Hunter, Lake Charles mayor, agreed with Johns saying that United Way of Southwest Louisiana was the obvious choice as the community “ambassador” as requests to donate or assist in recovery began to pour in. “I was inundated with offers to help and I made the conscious decision to say, ‘Guys, this is United Way, and this is my offer for Help Ambassador. If there’s anyone that can get the donations and items to people who need it the quickest it’s United Way’,” he said.
“United Way knows this community. They live in this community. They breathe this community daily, 365 days a year.”
Durel thanked Morning Star for the donation and ensured that, “As quickly as they got it here, we’re going to in turn get it right into the hands of the people that need it the most in our community here in Southwest Louisiana.”
The Morning Star donation consists of many products from enchilada and pizza sauce to salsa and diced tomatoes to be distributed at the Hurricane Relief Center run by United Way of Southwest Louisiana.
United Way of Southwest Louisiana’s Hurricane Relief Center is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To learn more or make a donation visit, www.unitedwayswla.org/hurricanes.