Jambalaya cooks begin relief effort

Charlotte Guedry

The Jambalaya Festival may be over, but for a few members of the Jambalaya Festival Association, the work continues.

Rhett Bourgeois says he and Tee-Wayne Abshire, Blair Lamendola, Ricky Breaux and Jay Alexi, are heading to Joplin, Missouri, to assist those struggling in the wake of the tornado disasters.

“We started helping out after Hurricane Ivan. We spoke to some people in?Orange Beach, Alabama, and began a journey there,” said Bourgeois. “Before we got there, the Governor sent word through Eddie Lambert that we stop off in Buras, LA. to help those folks out.”

Once in Buras, the group worked alongside the Gonzales branch of the La. National Guard, who were handing out ice to citizens.

“I made a plea then and there that people help us raise $10,000 to help feed 10,000 people in Orange Beach,” said Bourgeois. “It must have worked, because we raised $15,000.”

For this trip, the men are hoping to raise even more funds, as they plan on loading up their gear to stay and cook in Joplin for a few weeks.

“We can give the people jambalaya, pastalaya, and even grits from the pots,” he said.

A local businesswoman has even donated her mobile home to assist in the men’s travel arrangements.

“Blair Lamendola has been working with an Associated Grocers up there, Price Cutter, who is helping with all the food as soon as we hit town,” said Bourgeois. “We are hoping to cook about one to two thousand meals a day.”

Donations are being accepted to help assist with the effort, and anyone interested, whatever the amount, is asked to give. You can mail a check to JFA, PO Box 1243, Gonzales, LA  70707, or call Wally Tallion at 806-5759, or Rhett Bourgeois at 715-2568.

“I’ll even come by and pick a donation up,” said Bourgeois.

Joplin officials are also requesting donations of personal hygiene items, which can be dropped off with a JFA representative.