Oklahoma National Guard member donates more than just her time to Hurricane Ida recovery

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DVIDS – Oklahoma Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Macey Winegarner (center) helps distribute water to residents affected by Hurricane Ida in Louisiana, Sept. 09, 2021. (Photo Courtesy Staff Sgt. of Macey Winegarner)

HOUMA, La. (WVLA) – Almost one month ago, Hurricane Ida left devastation in its wake.

For some, there were no homes. For others, there was no power for weeks.

As recovery continues for many in Louisiana and other southeastern states, stories are surfacing of the people doing extraordinary things to help.

Meet Macey Winegarner of the Oklahoma National Guard or OKANG, a new mother who is donating her breast milk to mothers in the area while helping in the rebuilding process.

DVIDS Image courtesy of Oklahoma Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Macey Winegarner, an air transportation non-commissioned officer with the 137th Special Operations Wing, holds her six month old in Mustang, Oklahoma, Sept. 13, 2021. Winegarner donated 120oz of breast milk during Hurricane Ida to a mother in need. (Oklahoma National Guard Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Mireille Merilice-Roberts)

Winegarner was a reservist. Now as a member of the OKANG, the new mom was sent to Houma to help out after Hurricane Ida.

From Sept. 1 through 11, Winegarner and her fellow Guardsmen helped set up points of distribution at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center, an elementary school in Napoleonville and a church in LaPlace.

Winegarner gave a little background on the difficulties of being a new mom and having to go somewhere else to help on a moment’s notice:

My husband is a Guard member too so we were both away. This was the first time either of us have been separated from our daughter named Arleigh other than working. My mom & nana made the nine hour drive from MS to get Arleigh. They dropped everything and helped us at the last minute since we had only hours of notice. It’s not ideal leaving your 6-month old for an unknown amount of time, but then again the circumstances in Louisiana were not ideal and they needed help. I didn’t know how I was going to pump while away & working, but I just told my husband that I would figure it out. I wasn’t letting it hold us back from helping.

While there, Winegarner posted a message on the Human Milk 4 Human Babies-Louisiana Facebook page.

Her message was seen by a grandmother named Jodie LeBlanc in Pierre Part with a 2-month-old granddaughter named Deklynn.

From there, Winegarner tells the story through her eyes:

I’ve always wanted to donate, but in the breastfeeding community I’m what is called a “just-enougher.” I only produce enough for my daughter. In the less than ideal circumstance, working freezers were few and far between so I was storing the milk in a cooler. I religiously iced it, but the milk would only be good in the cooler for 72hrs max. I couldn’t bare the thought of dumping perfectly good milk so the idea to donate was born. I would pump a couple days worth and then let Jodie know I had a lump sum for pickup. We arranged two different donation times that equaled to just over 120oz of Breastmilk.

If you would like to learn more about Oklahoma Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Macey Winegarner and her time in Louisiana visit OKANG.

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