Community rises to the occasion

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When there is a need, leaders step up. That’s what we saw happen last week with the Karl Malone Foundation for Kids Union Parish Food Project.

Malone, a Summerfield native, resident of Ruston and business and property owner in Union Parish, saw a need and wanted to do something about it.

Kudos to the organizations that have been providing food all along. The churches and other programs that do what they can to help. That goes a long way within a community.

Trying to find a way to have a large impact at one time, Malone did what any good leader does, he reached out to other leaders in the community to help.

In only nine days, the team Malone assembled raised roughly $50,000, then leveraged that to purchase about $200,000 worth of food.

There were 37 monetary donors. Businesses (small and large), individuals and some public officials gladly gave. The group purchased 80,000 pounds of chicken, 1,200 10-pound bags of potatoes, more than 800 5-pound bags of rice, over 1,500 pounds of fresh fruit, along with many other staples.

I was fortunate to be part of the group that organized and staffed the event. Seeing volunteers come together Friday to put boxes together and fill them was heart warming. A group from Farmerville First Assembly of God church showed up bright and early Friday. Farmerville Councilman Jerry Taylor spent most of Friday and Saturday helping, not only on site, but delivering food to needy families as well. Bevelyn Hunter, Lake Commission President Jake Halley, The Gazette staff, Johnny Dollar, and many more all showed up Friday and/or Saturday and gave a full day to helping others.

It was good to see some elected officials there. Sheriff Dusty Gates, Farmerville Mayor Stein Baughman, Judge Bruce Hampton, Judge Jay Mc- Callum, Farmerville Police Chief Bim Coulberston, Jerry Taylor, all played a large role in the event. This was the perfect place to be if you were a public servant, letting those who elected you see you giving back.

And Malone didn’t stop at lending his name and money to the project. No, he was all in. He, his wife Kay and all their kids and other family were there as well. Saturday the Malone family put as much sweat equity into the effort as anyone else. Kadee Malone, co-owner and manager at Legends in Ruston, showed why she has earned the moniker Boss Lady. She did not take a break at all Saturday, directing traffic, keeping the seemingly endless line of cars moving and directing volunteers as to what and how much went in each vehicle.

A huge shout out to Popeye’s and Johnny’s Pizza of Farmerville for feeding the volunteers Friday and Saturday as well. The food and drinks were very much appreciated.

Here’s the point, it shouldn’t take a situation such as we are experiencing for someone to step up and make a difference. Yes Malone lent his name to the event. People seem to jump at the chance to be involved with someone famous.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. I think Karl said it best in the days leading up to the event; “When it comes to this type of situation, lead, follow or get the hell out the way.”

Just do something. When people heard this event was going to take place, it should not have mattered when, where, or who was doing it. People needed help and those who could should have helped.

I can guarantee you this, if you weren’t part of blessing others with this project, you missed out on receiving a tremendous blessing yourself.

Byron Avery serves as editor for The Gazette