SLIDELL, La. — Imagine your car breaks down and you need help or maybe you have extra clothes to give to someone in need. These are conversations happening in a Facebook group for people in St. Tammany Parish. 'Helping Hands St. Tammany' started five years ago and the founder never expected it to turn into what it has.
"Every time I think my faith in humanity slips, then I go to that page and it's always restored," said Pearl Kutz.
At some point, everyone needs a helping hand. That was recently for Kutz when she ran out of diapers for one of her kids and was struggling to afford more.
"I was in my panic mode not really knowing what to do," she said.
She decided to ask for help by posting on the 'Helping Hands St. Tammany' Facebook page.
"A lady from Covington sent one of the admins the money and within 15 minutes he said 'we got the diapers,'" she said.
Someone who Kutz will likely never meet bought her diapers. That's just one of many stories of people helping people that comes out of the page everyday. Randy Kakumei created the page five years ago when facing his own struggles. He realized he didn't know where to turn for resources.
"This was just an opportunity to help promote what our community has to offer and help create what it doesn't have to offer," Kakumei said.
It turned into much more and now has about 13,000 members. People have shared resources, donated clothes to struggling families, fixed cars, rescued cats out of trees, and helped with other requests. These members are strangers. They ask each other for help, but even more often offer help.
"I've seen people get help with water pumps, I've seen people get help with houses, I've seen whole houses get built for people just because people wanted to step up to the plate and make something possible for a family going through a hard time," Kakumei said.
Those who ask for help find they're also able to return the favor. Recently a single mom's car broke down. Kutz helped. Her husband is a mechanic and fixed the car for free. Another member of the page paid for the parts.
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"Somebody's always responding," she said.
Now the group is growing even more. This time, off Facebook. They now have a building and are getting ready to open a community resource center in Slidell.
"Where individuals can come look for resources, looking for jobs, looking for housing," Kakumei siad.
STP Helps Resource Center will be a hub focused on building a better community.
"This goes way further than just stepping up and helping somebody, this goes into offering somebody hope," Kakumei said.
The non-profit plans to officially open the resource center next month. It will be a place where people can donate items, go to for help, or offer big ideas to make the community a better place. You can find more info on the website. St. Tammany Parish residents and people in surrounding communities can request to join the Facebook group HERE.