Tanger Outlets in Gonzales launched their #TangerCares campaign last week, giving back to local residents still struggling from the August flood that affected much of south Louisiana.
The Tanger team kicked off the second day of their 7 Days of Giving program at Lakeside Primary on Dec. 6 where they surprised third grade teacher Jennifer LeBlanc with a $1,500 shopping spree and various clothes and kitchen items.
Since the flood in August, LeBlanc and her two daughters have been living out of a hotel. She lost the majority of her home, as the waters rose to the second floor, shifting her house off its peers.
"The flash alerts just kept coming and I thought maybe this is a little more serious than I was thinking," LeBlanc said. The water went up about two feet in about 45 minutes, at that point I told my daughter to grab what she could and we each grabbed a bag.
We spent days in the vehicle riding around looking and we decided we were going to just sit in a hotel parking lot. I would go in every couple hours and say did anyone cancel, is there a room opening. Every couple of days we would pack up and put our stuff in the truck and ride around and they would call us if a room came open."
While sharing her story, LeBlanc also told about the struggles her colleague, fourth grade teacher Susan Chmurka is facing, as she lost her home in the flood as well. Tanger representatives decided that she needed help too, and awarded Chmurka with a $1,500 shopping spree to help rebuild her home.
On the fourth day of the campaign, the team headed out to Geismar to surprise Angela Reese and her six children who were affected by the flood and are living in a severely damaged home. Along with a $1,500 shopping spree and kitchen items, Tanger donated shoes to each of her six children.
"This is the best day of my life. This is more awesome than awesome," said Angela's nine-year old son Terry Reese.
"This means a lot," the mother of six said. "I never thought I would have all of this."
The Reese Family was nominated by Volunteer Ascension, as the organization had been working with the family to help with their home.
"Ascension Parish has been through so much in the last few months, its just so heartwarming to see people and companies that are really committed to helping people, especially at Christmas time," said Sherri Denig of Volunteer Ascension. "It's a tough time of year, it means so much."
On Dec. 9, Donaldsonville Primary special education teacher Jackie Cullia, who resides in Prairieville, was also surprised with a shopping spree and home items.
In 2005, she lost her home to Hurricane Katrina, then again to Hurricane Rita, and in August, her Prairieville home flooded in the Great Flood of 2016. These losses are what motivated her daughter to nominate her through a social media campaign that was started last month for Ascension Parish Public School employees.
"We have been through the 100 year storm, now the 1,000 storm," Cullia said. "This will pass, just like Katrina passed. It gets better with time. It'll take a little while, but it gets better with time."
Tanger Outlets wrapped up their #TangerCares campaign on Saturday with a free live performance from Jacob Whitesides where 500 $25 gift cards were passed out to attendees.