Relaymedia

Stretching Hands Beyond Mere Relief

''What we hope to do is help churches make a stronger connection in the community because we’ll leave but the church will still be there’’
( [email protected] ) Oct 01, 2004 11:20 AM EDT

Volunteers from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the third largest disaster relief agency in the nation, served in Florida for 50 continuous days. Despite the ongoing financial needs to continue operation, the denomination dispatched dozens of teams and units throughout the state in numerous post-hurricane zones, Sept 30, 2004.

“This is the most intense, ongoing scattered disaster ever in [disaster relief’s] history,” said Tommy Puckett, director of disaster relief for the state Baptist convention board of missions. “Nowhere have we been called on this many times. We’re running thin.”

“That, added to needs of many Florida and Alabama volunteers in their own homes, means that several hundred volunteers from about 10 states have played crucial roles in meeting food, cleanup and chainsaw needs,” said Puckett.

Southern Baptists served the areas hit by Hurricanes Charley and Frances for some 20 days each. Current operations are centered on the areas hit by Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne.

At last count, SBC volunteers gave 16,188 hours of their time, and cooked 853,335 meals, completed 2,016 recovery jobs, and ran 1,048 loads of laundry for the Hurricane Ivan count alone.

Meanwhile, for Hurricane Jeanne, SBC dispatched units to the states of Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina Tennessee and Texas. More units across the nation has been heading toward the disaster sites throughout the week.

According to Kay Cassibry, director of Mississippi Woman’s Missionary Union, the mission of these newly dispatched volunteers extends beyond the immediate relief needs.

"What we hope to do is help churches make a stronger connection in the community because we’ll leave but the church will still be there,” said Cassibry.

To financially assist the SBC, make a check payable to the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and mail to: NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. To make a donation online using a credit card, go to www.namb.net/dr