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La. Baptists send hay to drought-weary Texas
Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press
August 18, 2011

La. Baptists send hay to drought-weary Texas

La. Baptists send hay to drought-weary Texas
Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press
August 18, 2011

LORANGER, La.

— Donated bales of hay are making their way from southeastern Louisiana

to drought-stricken Texas.

It’s a mission project started by a member of Woodland

Park Baptist Church

in Hammond, who asked that his name

be withheld. He’s retired from the Louisiana Department of Transportation, but

not from the small spread he farms near Loranger, where about 20 head of beef

cattle graze.

“I was at home, watching the news, and you could see how bad it (the drought)

was out there (in Texas),” the

mission project catalyst said. “I love missions and wanted to help. Then I left

my house and as I was driving I saw leftover hay from last year in a barn. That’s

when it hit me: Why don’t I find out how many barns have leftover hay they’d

donate?”

Most everybody did, he found out. “From there it just took off. I started

calling Baptist churches in Texas

to see who had need, and that’s how it started.”

The donor has been a member of Woodland Park Hammond for about four years,

associate pastor Randy Ray said.

“He went on a medical mission trip with me a year ago to El

Salvador and that really stepped him up as

far as his focus on missions,” Ray said. “He went to Kentucky

earlier this year on a construction project and he went to northern Mississippi

with tornado relief a couple of months ago. When he came back, he organized a

chainsaw unit for our association, and now we have a really nicely equipped

chainsaw trailer.”

The haylift ministry focuses on farmers with not too much acreage nor too many

cattle.

BP photo/Randy Ray

Donated round bales of hay make their way from southeastern Louisiana to drought-stricken Texas.

“We’re just helping the little guys, those with, say, 20 to 50 head (of cattle),”

the mission project catalyst said on Aug. 10. “We’ve been hauling for three

weeks and will continue another three weeks for farmers who have run out of hay

and grass.

“We can take only 17 round bales on a gooseneck, and 38 to 40 on an 18-wheeler,”

the donor continued. “We’ve taken it to Jacksonville, Texas, and from there it’s

gone as far as west as Abilene. We’ve got hay in Austin, Huntsville and

Blessing, Texas. We’re dealing mostly with Baptist churches so it’s delivered

fairly and is not being sold.”

Because of the unprecedented drought — Texas

is in its driest 10 months in more than 100 years — grain feed isn’t growing.

It costs $90 to $120 these days for a round bale of hay in Texas, up from

perhaps $40 in non-drought conditions, when not much would be needed anyway,

the Louisiana farmer explained. People are being forced to sell their cattle

because of the drought.

“A lady called yesterday,” the mission project catalyst said. “They have about

40 head that she was fixing to have to sell when she heard about this. ‘Get to

Vinton, La., (at Interstate 10 on the Texas state line) and you can have all 39

rolls we’ve got there. Y’all can have the hay, no cost.’ When I said that, she

started breaking down, crying. I started crying myself and we had to hang up;

we couldn’t talk. That’s what this is all about — helping people in the name of

Jesus.”

As of Aug. 10, Woodland Park

and Ebenezer Baptist churches, both in Hammond,

were involved in the Texas

haylift, and all the hay has come from farms in the Loranger area. Northshore

Baptist Association and the Louisana Baptist Convention disaster relief each

have contributed $1,000 toward what the convention’s disaster relief director,

Gibbie McMillan, calls a “disaster because of drought.”

Transportation and fuel for the hay bales are donated.

“Anybody anywhere could do the same thing we’re doing,” the mission project

catalyst said. “Seems like once you start something, everybody wants to

help…. It’s a small operation, I would call it. We’re not trying to hay (all of)

Texas. We’re just trying to help people; we kinda push that, this is a

ministry.

“What I’m having a problem is getting the hay from the edge of Texas

further west, like San Antonio,” he

continued. “I’m having a real problem with that.”

More than 90 percent of Texas is

in the two most extreme stages of drought. An updated government weather map

shows the drought holding firm — if not intensifying — through at least

October.

Lonnie Wascom, director of missions for Northshore Baptist Association, said he

is amazed to think hay from Louisiana

is helping in Texas.

“Southeast Louisiana is known for a lot of things — great festivals, food,

fishing, hunting, football, swamp people, swamp loggers and others, even truck

farming, but not ranching,” Wascom said. “Texas

has ranches bigger than some of our parishes and we are sending hay to them?

Sending shrimp, crawfish, strawberries and any number of other truck farm crops

would make sense, but for us to be sending hay, are you kidding me? I find it to

be simply wonderful!”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Willoughby is

managing editor of the Louisiana Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana

Baptist Convention. Individuals interested in helping with the haylift may

contact Woodland Park

Baptist Church

at 985-345-4013.)