Red Cross distributes meals

Published 10:30 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2011

To help out Suffolk residents who were still without power, the American Red Cross handed out free hot meals, snacks and water in Suffolk on Tuesday.

A crew of three workers set up at Kilby Shores Elementary School with an emergency response vehicle stocked with beef stew, coleslaw, applesauce and dinner rolls to provide meals for the public.

American Red Cross volunteer Rod Hamer of Cedar Falls, Iowa, puts together a hot meal to give to Suffolk residents that were still without power Tuesday. The Red Cross emergency response vehicle parked at Kilby Shores Elementary School and drove through neighborhood near the school and the Hollywood area to hand out meals for lunch and dinner.

Rob Shapiro, the public relations director for the Coastal Virginia American Red Cross, said the organization prioritizes areas without power when it decides where to send the meal trucks.

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“Right now, food is the key thing for people who don’t have power,” he said.

Once an area is identified as needing assistance, a crew heads out with a truck loaded with meals, snacks and water to hand out.

Red Cross volunteer Roger Wright left the safety of his home in Lexington, Ky., and traveled more than 600 miles to help with hurricane preparation and relief work in Virginia.

Although he has spent most of his time helping out in Hampton Roads, Tuesday was his first day in Suffolk.

Wright said he hopes the free meals can be a relief for residents without power who have a lot on their minds.

“We want to help people who are dealing with other things,” he said. “It’s one less thing they have to worry about.”

Wright, along with workers Shane Halbrook from Lafayette, Ind., and Rod Hamer, from Cedar Falls, Iowa, drove through neighborhoods around the school and the Hollywood neighborhoods to distribute 300 meals for both lunch and dinner.

Wright said they usually drive around to find residents that can benefit from the meals but might not know about the free distribution.

Shapiro said he thinks having the volunteers from other states working the vehicles is what makes the relief effort unique.

“Passing out meals is very cool, but to have someone from Lexington, Ky., come into Suffolk to serve meals — that’s what we’re really proud of,” he said.

Shapiro added the Red Cross plans continue to evaluate areas of Suffolk that need assistance and decide if other services are needed in the area.

“We’re out there distributing supplies, and we are trying to figure out what the needs are,” he said.