Saturday Morning from Surfside, FL

Yesterday, we learned that the family of a local firefighter lost their seven-year-old daughter in the tragic condominium collapse. Her body was recovered late Thursday night by search and rescue workers. The official death toll has risen to 22 and 126 are still missing.

The grim reality of what has transpired seems to hit everyone in waves. But the determination of the emergency teams is amazing. These brave men and women are working day and night in their search and rescue efforts. There is an incredible urgency in what the are doing.

+ + More challenging phase...

Now, the search enters an even more challenging phase. Authorities are concerned about the stability of the part of the building that did not fall. They know the rest of the building must be demolished soon but want to give the search teams every opportunity to complete their work. And now, Hurricane Elsa is expected to bring tropical storm force winds to Florida as soon as Monday and could make landfall early next week. All these factors are giving the teams even more urgency.

These next 72 hours are critical. Mercy Chefs is serving FIVE MEALS DAILY (we added two overnight meals to serve the night shift). We have two entire crews. I had to bring in extra equipment and extra personnel to meet the need. We've been asked by the authorities here to provide these teams with hot, nutritious meals. As long as they are working, we must be there!

Will you help? I'm asking every member of our Mercy Chefs family to stand with us this weekend as we stand with the community of Surfside and these search and rescue workers. Go here to make your best possible tax-deductible gift:

+ + Last night we served a special meal

The combination of the heat, humidity and the incredibly taxing nature of this search and rescue effort means these workers require a high-protein, high-calorie diet. So the meals Mercy Chefs is serving have even more meats and starches than normal. Last night -- thanks to a special donation from Omaha Steaks -- we served these workers the highest quality sirloins with mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, and a dinner roll, along with chocolate cake for dessert (that's Chef Lisa with me holding one of the steak dinners).

Today, our teams are back at it. We served a meal at 4:30AM. We just completed breakfast and our team is already working on lunch. FIVE MEALS today, tomorrow, and through the holiday weekend.

Please help as we do everything we can to match the 24-hour work schedule of these teams.

Thanks in advance, and God bless,

Gary LeBlanc, Mercy Chefs

P.S. It is an incredible honor that Mercy Chefs has been asked to be the exclusive provider of hot meals to the 400+ rescue workers. These men and women are laboring day and night to search through the fallen structure. Every day, this work becomes even more dangerous. And now, a hurricane is knocking on Florida's coast. Will you help me THIS WEEKEND as we serve five meals daily (including two overnight meals) to these heroes? Thanks for your prayerful consideration. Go here to make your gift.

P.P.S. If you prefer to donate by check, go here for complete mailing instructions. God bless.

Top image source: screen capture from KJRH Channel 2 report