McKees reach out to Puerto Rican families

By MARLAN JONES,

Jazzmine Ramos McKee is no stranger to being displaced and going without due to extreme weather. She and her family became residents of Mississippi in 2005 after evacuating one of the most deadly hurricanes in American history, Hurricane Katrina.

She is originally from New Orleans, which was affected the most by the storm.

One of the most recent hurricane tragedies struck the Caribbean. Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and surrounding areas. McKee is of Puerto Rican descent, and after living through Hurricane Katrina says she felt an overwhelming need to get involved. She approached her relief efforts from the viewpoint of a mother. McKee focused on the challenges that mothers and families with small children would face day to day following a crisis. This led to the creation of Wear a Baby Cloth a Baby.

McKee began the Wear a Baby Cloth a Baby Campaign in March. It started as a cloth diaper and baby carrier campaign for the mothers of Puerto Rico, but it soon spread to include other supplies.  She explained that it began as something small, but quickly grew. Several people made contributions to the campaign. McKee and her family were able to collect 1,000 cloth liners, 515 cloth diapers, 247 cloth wipes, 16 carriers, 21 wet bags, 9 pumping bras, 6 nursing shells, 9 breast pumps, and 3 nursing pillows.

McKee said, “Me, my husband, and five kids they have learned several good lessons. It’s awesome that people still give in unconditional ways to people they’ll never meet.”

Outside of 10 cloth diapers all of the donations received came from inside the state of Mississippi.

Wear a Baby Cloth a Baby became an official nonprofit organization in May, before McKee and her husband Phillip planned a trip to Puerto Rico to personally hand deliver the supplies to families.

She explained that there are problems with simply sending donations. She said donations get sent, but they are not handed out to the areas that really need them. That’s why it was imperative that the majority of the supplies be hand delivered. She said, “We find happiness in helping others and that’s why we will be going out and taking supplies to the people that really need them.”

McKee, her husband, and youngest son visited Puerto Rico on May 15 through May 22. She said they were able to make contact with approximately 200 families, and handed out all of the supplies that were collected.

They also passed out 250 prayer cloths provided by her church, Parkway Pentecostal Church in Ridgeland. She heaped praise on her church family pastor, Jason Dillon, for their tremendous support of the Cloth a Baby Wear a Baby campaign.

“The Bible calls us to be the hands and feet of Jesus and that’s what we are trying to accomplish in helping the less fortunate,” said McKee.

Other contributors include Marvin Williams Construction, America’s Best Roofing, and Wear It’s At Consignment.

McKee explained that a return trip is being planned for August. Puerto Rico is struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria and the living conditions are poor. Relief efforts have been moving at a slow pace. McKee said the need for help is there and God has moved her to action. She returned with a better understanding of what is needed and the campaign continues.