‘People care’: Road-weary travelers grateful for free food, drinks, rest in Ridgeland
The road weary are welcomed in Jasper County — and they’ll even get some free snacks, water and snow cones.
Led by the kind hearts of Rhonda Lowther, Regina Webster and Joyce Sapp, the community has stocked the Farmers’ Market on Jacob Smart Boulevard in Ridgeland with an abundance of water, snacks, sandwiches, baked goods and Ridgeland-based JABB’s Frozen New Orleans Style Snowballs.
The complimentary goods have been made available for motorists headed back to Florida after Hurricane Irma.
Signs lined Ridgeland’s streets early this morning inviting travelers to find their way to the market to stretch, walk their dogs and enjoy a bite to eat.
Ebby Boehm, with a loaf of bread, water and a sandwich in hand, said he was making his way back to Orlando, Fla., from Florence when he saw a Facebook post about the goodwill initiative.
Boehm was expecting the bare minimum, but instead was impressed with the options.
“It’s actually a lot more than I expected,” Boehm said. “I haven’t seen anything like it.”
Boehm doesn’t think his Orlando community was hit too hard by the storm, but he’s not sure if he’ll have power when he returns. He said the food will come in handy.
“This is a lot of help,” he said.
Friends Danny Arshadnia, Nick Richardson and Eli Kaufman were headed back to Miami from New York. They left at 9 p.m. Tuesday and planned to continue south on Interstate 95 throughout the day.
They weren’t looking for a place to rest in Jasper County, but when they stopped at a gas station in town they were told to go to the Farmers’ Market. They were glad to have taken the advice.
“This is really cool,” said Arshadnia, 29.
The guys left Miami last Wednesday ahead of the storm and stayed with Kaufman’s family in Far Rockaway, Queens. They endured an hours-long wait at a gas station in Jupiter, Fla., when they evacuated, but overall they said their travels have been fine. But they hadn’t encountered anything like the altruism in Ridgeland.
“This is really nice, people care,” said Richardson, 25.
The group munched on cinnamon buns, snow cones and had some treats for their dog, Shmeeb.
Ridgeland residents Carolyn and Jimmy Brown said the storm didn’t do too much damage to their home (“a lot of water,” Jimmy Brown said), so when they saw Lowther’s Facebook post asking to help travelers, the Browns jumped at the chance.
“We fared out well, but a lot of people didn’t,” Jimmy Brown said.
They’ve been in business for 16 years and Wednesday offered a variety of flavors, including blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, Coca-Cola, banana, grape, lemon-line and cherry.
Said Carolyn Brown: “We do what we have to do to support everybody.”
Lowther, who estimates more than 150 cases of water were donated, said she’s not surprised the community did everything it could to help the "Jasper Operation Evacuee Comfort" initiative.
“The people in the community have been phenomenal,” she said. “I’m not amazed because this is what we do, but I’m always impressed.”
Lowther said the group plans to be at the Farmers’ Market on Wednesday until supplies run out or it gets dark. If there continues to be a need, they’ll be back Thursday.
To help, call 843-247-0858.