The congregations of the St. Mary Baptist Church, the Greater Union Baptist Church, and the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church are feeling the love and support of the community as donations pour in to rebuild the three historically Black churches that were burned in separate fires all within a week of one another.
Currently, 21-year-old Holden Matthews, the son of a St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, deputy is facing hate crime charges, as well as arson charges in connection to the fires. Matthews pleaded not guilty in a hearing on Monday.
But even as the community grapples with the fall out of the alleged crimes, a GoFundMe that was started in order to help raise funds for the churches has been trending on the campaign site, raising more than $350,000 in less than a week thanks to the generous contributions of 7,071 people.
Local businesses and entrepreneurs have also stepped up vowing their support.
According to the Lafayette Daily Advertiser, Bob Giles, who owns auto dealerships in Opelousas and Lafayette, pledged to match donations up to $50,000 in an account that has been created at IberiaBank locations.
IberiaBank, which has its headquarters in Lafayette, also donated $6,000 to help rebuild the churches.
Former New Orleans Saints tight end Ben Watson has also been tweeting about ongoing efforts to support the churches, encouraging people to help as they can.