This week, Mercy Chefs is celebrating 15 years of serving people in disaster and crisis situations. When Mercy Chefs was just an idea in my mind back in 2006, I never could have imagined that we would provide 15 million meals in our first 15 years.

Most important to me are the faces of the people we have helped. Every time we deploy in response to a disaster, I meet folks whose lives have been turned upside down. Quite often, they are downcast and confused -- not sure where to even begin as they pick up the pieces of their lives. Power and water have been disrupted and streets are blocked. Many homes have been destroyed or seriously damaged. Those in the community are not only shocked, they feel isolated from the rest of the world. They wonder if anyone cares.

I see their faces time and time again... literally every time we deploy. It hurts my heart and motivates me to find ways to do more and reach more people. Also, when deployed, our team is always looking for those who have been missed altogether by relief efforts... a nursing home that has been isolated by the storm.... a neighborhood that has yet to be reached.... a small town a few miles away that hasn't seen anyone since the storm hit.

That's precisely what happened when Mercy Chefs responded in 2012 after a mile-wide tornado ripped through West Liberty, Kentucky. 140 MPH winds had leveled the town. The death toll quickly reached 39, and on top of the tornado, a winter storm dumped snow on the region.

We set up our mobile kitchen near the heart of the devastation and started serving meals as fast as we could. While we were serving, we heard about a neighboring community about 14 miles away that was also decimated by the massive tornado but had not yet been reached by relief efforts. So we packed up our truck with meals and headed to the town, not knowing what to expect. As we approached the town, the locals came out to meet us. Turns out were the first relief organization to reach their town -- and we had chef-prepared meals! 

Someone cared enough to come... and they brought real, nutritious meals to help us through!

That is precisely why Mercy Chefs exists -- and why I'm determined to grow our effort to reach even more people in the next 15 years.

Will you partner with Mercy Chefs as we celebrate 15 years of relief efforts so we can reach even more people? Specifically, I'm asking every friend of Mercy Chefs to sponsor at least 15 meals in honor of our 15th anniversary. Perhaps you can do more and sponsor 100, 150 or even 1,000 meals. Every gift will make a difference. Go here to make your tax-deductible gift directly to Mercy Chefs as we build for the next 15 years of service and millions more meals:

+ + Your gift will be DOUBLED!

As I noted yesterday, we just received a special commitment of $15,000 from a friend of Mercy Chefs as a MATCHING CHALLENGE GIFT in honor of our 15th Anniversary. But we need to fully match this challenge by the end of this weekend if possible.

Every gift will help -- and will be effectively doubled by this challenge gift. Go here to make your tax-deductible gift to Mercy Chefs (doubled by the challenge).

Finally, THANK YOU SO MUCH for your prayers and faithful support of Mercy Chefs during our first 15 years. Your partnership has been a blessing to so many people.

God bless you!

Gary LeBlanc, Mercy Chefs

P.S. Remember, every gift will be doubled by this special challenge gift until we reach the goal.  If you want to join our celebration by sponsoring meals, go here:

P.S. If you haven't had an opportunity to leave comments celebrating our 15-year anniversary, go here: