Wallace State student Alexander Perez sparks college’s donation drive for Baton Rouge, LA flood victims

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Wallace State Dean of Applied Technologies Jimmy Hodges, left, shakes hands with Alexander Perez.

 

HANCEVILLE – Wallace State Aviation/Flight Technology student Alexander Perez knows first-hand how flooding can be devastating and life-altering. 

Perez and his family lost all of their possessions during the Katrina flooding 11 years ago and his sister’s house was recently flooded with three feet of water near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

As a Louisiana native, Perez, also a U.S. Army veteran and a member of the National Guard, was curious if Wallace State could assist with the flooding relief efforts in Louisiana and asked Susan Peek, a SUCCESS Coach with the college, if a donation drive was feasible. 

Wallace State’s students and employees and the surrounding areas responded overwhelmingly last week, donating cases of water, cleaning supplies, toiletry and personal hygiene items, diapers, canned goods and non-perishable food items, among many other basic needs.

Once the donation drive was shared on social media, Wallace State received items from the surrounding cities, especially with separate drives reaching their full capacity at other locations.  

“I told Susan the flooding victims were going to need donations for a while and just explained what was going on. She helped organize all of it, and we worked together to get it where it is now. We definitely didn’t expect the outcome we received, but we are so grateful,” said Perez last Friday. “I thought we might get a truckload worth of supplies to take to Louisiana. I had no idea there would be pallets and pallets of so many different items.”  

Added Peek, “The turnout has been awesome. The items we’ve received have been way more than I expected. I was expecting to just fill up a truck, but now we are talking about filling up one of our semi-trucks to assist another community college.” 

Perez loaded both the cab and the bed of his red Chevy Silverado with donated items last Friday and distributed them over the weekend in Louisiana. On Monday, Perez said the recipients were very grateful. 

“A lot of people are using cleaning supplies like bleach to kill mold formations, using 50 percent bleach and 50 percent water. We dropped off a lot of bleach and water to a church group and picked up meals for the evacuees in hotels. We dropped off hygiene materials and diapers to those staying the hotels,” Perez said. “I was able to explain to some people about the donations originating from Wallace State, and they were extremely happy and thankful about the donations. Some had their homes flooded to up to eight feet of water.”  

When the floods hit, Perez was on duty in New Orleans and said his unit drove to the affected cities and worked 33 consecutive hours at one point, rescuing individuals from vehicles and flooded homes. Perez said his unit focused mainly on relief efforts in East Baton Rouge Parish near Denham Springs. 

As Louisiana continues to recover from the flooding, Wallace State has plans to continue its relief efforts. The college is conducting a drive through September 7th and all of the donations will be delivered by a Wallace State CDL truck to Baton Rouge Community College on September 9th. Early estimates have determined that around 35 percent of faculty and staff and 35 percent of students at Baton Rouge Community College have lost everything due to recent flooding and many didn’t have flood insurance. 

Perez chose to attend Wallace State from Louisiana because the Aviation/Flight Technology program offers both helicopter and commercial pilot training. He is honored Wallace State has taken the initiative to assist residents of his home state.  

“It feels good to me to be a part of a school that would actually take the initiative to go ahead and say we are going to do this and help everybody we can help out,” Perez said. “I greatly appreciate all the college is doing.” 

Meanwhile, at Wallace State-Oneonta’s campus, donations have poured in over the last 10 days after the site teamed up with the LKQ Corporation for flood relief efforts. The Oneonta campus is accepting donations through the first week of September. Donations can be dropped off on Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m.-4:40 p.m. and on Friday from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Water, canned goods, bug repellent and plastic totes are among the items most requested at the Oneonta site. For more information about the Oneonta drive, contact Weslie Powell at weslie.powell@wallacestate.edu. 

For more information about Wallace State, visit www.wallacestate.edu.