DeRidder business raises $33,963 for storm victims

Published 7:13 pm Sunday, September 5, 2021

A pair of DeRidder business owners hit an incredible milestone this weekend as they raised more than $33,000 to benefit southeast Louisiana victims of Hurricane Ida.

Airel Perkins owns the downtown DeRidder boutique Nothing Fancy with her mother in-law, Anna Burks.  The two opened the storefront to their online business in August 2020, just a few short weeks before Hurricane Laura brought devastation through the area. While their store was spared from heavy damage, the two women know all too well the hardships that people in southeast parishes are facing right now, and just how powerful a giving community can be.   

“After Hurricane Laura hit, we met so many amazing people from SELA who were here volunteering. Some were serving food or offering gas, while others were helping with debris removal. We really just wanted to try and return the favor in some way,” Perkins said.

The women put their heads together and came up with the fastest way the two could raise money, and with help from their designer, DeRidder native Frankie Brooks-Lewis, the shop began selling T-shirts bearing an image of an outline of the state of Louisiana filled with the words “Come hell or high water, we stand Louisiana strong.”

“We knew it wasn’t safe to hop in our cars and drive down south, but we knew we could sell a T-shirt. So, away we went working on it,” Perkins said.

The shirts went on sale on Aug. 30 and were an immediate hit. By Saturday, Sept. 4, the shop had sold 1,715 of the T-shirts. Those sales coupled with donations from the community allowed the business to raise a total of $33,963 that will be used to benefit ongoing relief efforts in St. James and Terrebonne parishes.

Perkins said those parishes were the first to offer help to Beauregard Parish after Laura.

With help from DeRidder Mayor Misty Clanton and the DeRidder Police Department, Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office and DeRidder Fire Department, Perkins and Burks are being provided lists of needed items as are assessed by officers on the ground helping in the area.

As officers with DPD and BPSO see a need, they communicate that need with Perkins and Burks and then those supplies are purchased and transported to the areas by the DeRidder Fire Department.

So far, Perkins said a lot of demand has been for air conditioner units, electric wire for hooking up a mobile laundry unit, hygiene items and food and water.

“Since Thursday they have been providing meals for nearly 300 people every day, so food has been a large need,” Perkins said.

They are also assisting First Church in DeRidder, who is transporting groceries and snacks to Raceland to help feed people there.

Perkins said she and Burks have been amazed by the response to their fundraising efforts, and she credits it with the giving heart of the Beauregard community.

“We never in our wildest dreams thought this was possible. This proves to me that there are still good people in this world,” she said.