LOCAL

Councilman Raheem T. Pierce provides 300-plus coats for needy residents

Staff Report

When temperatures plummeted below 20 degrees before Christmas, an Iberville Parish Council member made an urgent phone call.

District 6 Councilman Raheem T. Pierce reached out to a longtime friend and got what he needed within a day.

A giveaway of coats in Seymourville organized by District 6 Iberville Parish Councilman Raheem Pierce helped more than 300 residents stay warm during the recent Arctic blast.

Pierce got help from Todd Terell of the United Cajun Navy, which provided him more than 300 coats for needy residents in his district, which covers the Seymourville area.

“I network a lot with different organizations in the area, and I knew from watching the news we were facing a record freeze,” the 21-year-old councilman said. “The benefits of my networking enabled me to acquire the coats not only for kids, but adults.”

The quick response surprised Pierce, but the volume amazed him.

“It was definitely a surprise, but you never know what you’re capable of until you try something, and we were able to get the coats fast,” he said.

The coat drive was originally intended for children, but Pierce discovered that as many parents and grandparents also needed coats.

“We got the message that there were coats available for people in need, and we got it done,” Pierce said.

It’s a common scenario, said Todd Terrell of the United Cajun Navy.

“A lot of times you’ll have parents who won’t buy those items for themselves because they can’t afford them,” he said. “When you reach out, you find out there are so many other needs.”

Pierce is no stranger to the United Cajun Navy.

His association began in August 2016 when he helped in rescues in Baton Rouge during the record flood that also affected Iberville, Livingston and Ascension parishes.

“The United Cajun Navy has always been a phone call away,” he said.

United Cajun Navy accepts donations of coats and other clothing items year-round.

The donations came in handy during the Arctic blast, Pierce said.

"It’s pure joy, honestly," he said. "It’s always a joy to know you’re able to touch and help families in need. I enjoy doing it and I plan to continue doing it.”

The donations came during a year when charities have struggled in a struggling economy.

Donations for Toys for Toys plummeted 75 percent from last year, Terrell said.

“It’s a sign of the times,” he said. “But we take donations all year long, not just during the Christmas season, so any and all donations are always welcome.”