Even before Hurricane Charley hit Southern Florida, Convoy of Hope, a Christian disaster relief and community outreach ministry was already prepared.
“We knew it would impact Southern Florida and it would hit hard when it hit,” Jeff Nene of Convoy of Hope told The Christian Post.
The ministry sent two trucks from its Springfield office in Missouri to the expected area of impact in order to provide immediate assistance to anyone in need once the hurricane had taken its toll.
Convoy of Hope was the first relief organization at Punta Gorda. On August 14, the first truck carrying water arrived at Punta Gorda hours after the hurricane had just left and begin distribute supplies to victims on a 24-hour a day basis.
Soon after, through a collaboration of COH and other ministries, more trailer trucks were dispatched to the area bringing supplies including, water, ice, drinks, food, clothing, paper products, cleaning products, building materials, beds, baby products, flashlights, and even a generator to a church in Port Charlotte, the ministry reported.
As of Aug. 26, sixty-one truckloads of 2.4 million pounds of supplies have reached around 65,000 people in Southwest Florida areas such as Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, Sanibel Island, Pine Island, Ft. Myers, through Convoy of Hope and its ministry partners.
During a disaster relief outreach event held on Aug. 18 in Punta Gorda, COH also teamed up with The Inspiration Networks (INSP) to increase awareness of the crisis.
The network’s project was an appeal to their viewers to get involved, according to Nene, who said that while many people wish to help, not many know how such as where to send financial contributions.
David Cerullo, president and CEO of INSP, and a television production crew spent the day documenting COH’s relief efforts, which will be included in a half-hour television special that will run the network’s channel on Sept. 4 at 9 p.m. INSP also plans to run public service announcements to alert its viewers.
“One of our goals as a cable television network is to encourage our viewers to extend their hands of help and hope to those less fortunate at this very difficult time," said Cerullo.
“We share a concern for helping people in need,” said Cerullo.“These relief efforts demonstrate why this partnership is so important."
In addition to distributing supplies, volunteers from Convoy of Hope spend time listening and praying with hurricane victims, said Nene.
“Our real goal is not for us to set up a big Convey of Hope shop,” he said, “but to empower and equip local churches to reach out.”
As Convoy of Hope hands over the reigns to disaster relief efforts to local churches and organization, it hopes to turn its focus to planning its Sept. 11 community outreach in Springfield, which will give away free groceries and other services to an expected crowd of 7,000-8,000 people.
For more information on Convoy of Hope, visit www.convoyofhope.org, or on INSP, visit www.insp.com.