Helping Hands volunteers get to work

Helping Hands volunteers in their trademark yellow vests help members of First United Methodist Church in Hammond clear fallen trees and debris from the property on Rue Denise over the weekend.

Helping Hands volunteers from numerous states have arrived in Hammond over the weekend and have begun knocking out their goal of 500 cleanup assignments.

The hotline is 844-965-1386.

More than 230 people are taking calls, said Hammond resident Ron Abel, who is involved in the effort.

“When you call that number, they’ll take your information, name, address and contact information,” he related. “That information goes into the system and it allows the organizations to take orders.”

The volunteer groups are based at the campus of the Jesus Christ Church of Latter-Day Saints on Old Baton Rouge Highway. Abel noted they are from different church denominations and groups. Many have set up tents on the church yard where they sleep.

“We give them their work assignments,” he said. “They determine what tools and equipment they’ll need. We provide them everything – tools, gas, whatever they need. There’s no charge to the homeowner. We tell homeowners if you want to donate, donate your resources to help those around you.”

Residents have expressed surprise by how quickly the work is done, he said.

“They get their assignments in the morning. They come back at night, and we mark the projects that are finished so there is no duplication,” Abel said. “Then they return tomorrow and do it again.”

This is not the first time the Helping Hands volunteers have been at the church in Hammond. They came here to do similar work after the floods of 2016.

“You can find hope in devastation,” Abel assured.

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