By Angela Brooks,
Director of Community Outreach
I feel like I am on a merry-go-round and I can’t find one thing to focus on to get my bearings. Charlottesville, Harvey, Irma, the list seems to expand every day. I was confused and overwhelmed two months before all of our nation’s most recent tragedies occurred. Where do we help? How do we help? How do I not sit in the fetal position and hope for it all to get better?
Where do we help? I have been doing research on what is needed and what is not needed, specifically for the disaster relief. The first thing relief agencies ask for is money. I know this can feel so impersonal, especially when buying water or canned goods results in those items being used the way I want them to, right? But giving money to an agency like the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) can buy exactly what they need when they need it. If we were in a disaster, waiting for help, wouldn’t we want the relief agency to be able to purchase whatever it is that they need to rescue us?
Another benefit of sending monetary donations to relief agencies over items is that it allows the relief agencies to purchase from the local businesses. Often times, when a natural disaster takes places, business is reduced, so allowing these agencies to buy from local places and put the money into the economy helps provide a little additional relief.
If you still would rather buy something instead of giving money, many relief agencies have a wish list on Amazon. You can buy an item off their specific wish list and ship it directly to their warehouse. There are two benefits of taking a few minutes to read exactly what the relief agencies need and only donating those items. One, providing the specifically requested item reduces waste because it takes unneeded items out of the equation. Two, it allows agencies to continue working in an efficient manner. If the agency receives items that are simply not helpful (and they know best what is and isn’t helpful), it only slows down their ability to help.
When considering items to donate, please remember that relief agencies are communicating very clearly the times that they do not need. Two big things that are not needed are used clothing and household goods. It may seem confusing when we’re watching people on the news who have lost everything. However, clothing and household goods take up a lot of room and a lot of resources to store, organize, and distribute. All of their resources now are going to distributing basic needs like water, food, and cleaning supplies.
Relief agencies have also said they don’t need unorganized volunteers yet. So many of us watch the tragedies and want to pack up our car and go down to help our neighbors to the south. However, the agencies are requesting trained volunteers already affiliated with their organizations during this immediate response time.
Here we are in our dry land of Kentucky having to wait to be any help to our fellow Americans. So what do we do? Here is my best stab at answering that question:
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer let your requests be made known to God”
We can pray.
Cullen Hornaday, Director of Spiritual Formation, is starting a prayer group on Wednesdays at 5:30pm in the Parlor. The gravity of everything going on in the world, compounded with what’s happening in your own life can be shared and prayed for in this group. Of course, prayer can happen anytime and anyplace, but sometimes, praying in a group allows us to feel encouraged in an entirely different way.
“If you can’t feed a hundred people then only feed one”
We can help.
We can make cleaning buckets for UMCOR. All of their supplies have been used up and they are handing out cleaning buckets as fast as they get them. Five-gallon buckets are available at the Information Center with a list of 15 items that need to be included in each kit. These buckets can be expensive to put together so consider going in as a group of friends or a Sunday school class to put one together. If you would like us to ship it for you, we can only accept completed buckets, and buckets need to be turned in at the Information Center by October 15.
We can continue to grow in our faith and help in our community.
It is hard to stay focused on what we were already involved in when so many are hurting, but we need to do just that. Let’s keep giving to our food pantries and serving at our missions, keep learning about people who are different from us by attending “Your Neighbor’s Religion” (2nd Sundays at 5:00pm) or the Wesley Night book study about racial reconciliation (Wednesdays at 7:00pm). Let us persevere to make a positive change where we can.