Church bells rang at 7 p.m. today to thank essential workers.
A Baton Rouge businesswoman created the 19 Thanks intitative as a way for Louisianians to turn the COVID-19 pandemic "on its head."
Deborah Sternberg said she came up with the idea after she wanted to find a way to turn all the numbers associated with the pandemic into a positive.
"What about a collective tribute to all essential workers on the 19th of every month at 1900 hours?" Sternberg, a Baton Rouge native business leader and philanthropist, asked. "Let's all write notes and record messages of appreciation for the world to see through19Thanks.org."
And so 19Thanks was born. Organizers ask that individuals, organizations, and places of worship across Louisiana ring a bell 19 times at 1900 hours (7 p.m.) on the 19th of every month to show support and gratitude to essential workers.
In Lafayette, the bells at several churches rang, including the one at St. Barnabas Episcopal on Camellia Boulevard, where Jan Risher was.
"On the 19th of the month, at 1900 hours, which is 7 p.m., until the pandemic is really done, she's encouraging people to go out and show their gratitude for essential workers," said Risher. "And one way to do that is by ringing bells - which is what I did tonight."
Sternberg says if you don't have a bell handy, you can hit a pot or pan 19 times.
"Focusing on what unites us during this unprecedented time is important, and I commend Deborah for creating a way to bring us together," said Gov. John Bel Edwards. "Showing appreciation for our heroes, the men and women who are on the frontline of helping our communities through this, reminds us of their sacrifices and that the only way we are going to be successful is by working together."
Also featured in the campaign is Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Raising Cane's owner Todd Graves. They recorded PSAs for the campaign, thanking essential workers across the state. You can watch those below.
The organization is partnering with Feeding Louisiana and the Louisiana Association of United Ways to donate meals.
You can find and submit messages of gratitude, donate meals, and donate funds on the website 19Thanks.org.