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Fundraising more important than ever as Loaves & Fishes looks for new home

Updated: May. 15, 2021 at 9:59 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - For Loaves & Fishes, the situation is dire but simple. If it has no home, it will have no food.

“As of right now, we don’t have a place to go to,” said Leslie Ramone, executive director of Loaves & Fishes. " Last year, we served over 50,000 meals. So, that’s 50,000 meals that won’t be served next year.”

Unless Ramone can find another place to stay after its current residence, DeMiller Hall, closes.

“Our current lease is up in August, and they gave us an extension until Dec. 31,” she said. “So, we have until the end of the year to find a new home whether it’s lease or purchase. We’ll take either one. If somebody wants to donate a building, we’ll be happy to take that too.”

That’s why the Hustle for Hungry 5K is more important than ever to raise enough funds to secure a new home and because COVID-19 is losing its grip, the participation has doubled. Kelsey Dechamps is back for another year to help the food service program.

“I think they’re extremely important to our community,” said Dechamps. “You know, a lot of people rely on them to survive. And, it’s important that people kind of band behind them and help to support them.”

Zoey Newkirk and Samantha Waltman are long-time volunteers through New Beginnings Church, and they know how to have a good time for a serious cause.

“This is more than a place where people get fed,” Newkirk said. “They get so much more than that: encouragement; and it helps them get off the streets. It helps them just get through another day.”

And without Loaves & Fishes?

“There would be a lot more out there on the streets, nothing to eat, freezing in the cold,” Waltman said.

At least for now, volunteers are doing what they can to keep the help coming.

“We’re putting it in God’s hands,” Ramone said. “We’ve been in ministry since 1983. There’s a reason we’ve been around this long. So, we hope to continue it.”

Ramone said last year’s event brought in $7,000, and her goal for this year is $10,000.

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