Unique Ways Small to Medium Sized Churches or Organizations Can Help With Relief Efforts
Below I've printed a very recent text conversation I had with a member of Garnett Church of Christ and Girl Scout Mom, after the Moore tornado hit. I want to give this as an example of what we do to join efforts of others, rather than opening our own effort after a disaster. My hope is that if you are part of a small or medium sized church or organization wondering what you can do, consider this approach and free people up to train, serve, learn more, do, give through established and experienced relief organizations. For example, after Joplin tornado, some church members wanted to go and help, and we asked them to join Red Cross or another official organization operating relief efforts, and they did. What they learned was that working through a large organization is most helpful, and donating money is usually better than clothing that needs sorted and creates a huge backlog and mess that needs managed. If clothing is donated, for example, we do it through an organization we know is on the ground consistently in these situations not one that arises just after the storm. Another time we helped with a major relief effort through our church was Katrina, and even then we worked through FEMA heavily.
What I'm saying is, our church body believes right now that there are other churches and organizations in town who do a whole lot better at large-scale relief efforts than we do, and so we joyfully join them rather than attempting to duplicate efforts. We had the same approach when we considered building houses a few years ago and we joined with other churches and Habitat for Humanity to build, rather than going out on our own and forming a new approach by our church.
For example, this morning we sent out the following article from Tulsa World of ways to help rather than getting our own truck, which we believe would simply just cause more confusion in Moore. Tulsa World article about how to help Moore and surrounding area victims
OK, back to the text conversation. The text thread originated from a Girl Scout Mom, an adult named Holly Chiarello, who is also a member of Garnett Church of Christ, and she gave me permission to print our text conversation verbatim.
Holly: Hi Greg! Is our church doing any kind of donation drive or anything 4 the people of moore? My Girl Scout troop is goin 2 try 2 hold a drive sunday in BA!
Greg: awesome pls send that info to Beth W. so she can put that info in bulletin -- send before 12 thurs, tomorrow or text to Beth at (number)
Holly: Ok will do! We will take anything! Monetary, clothes, food, water! All i got left 2 do is get permission from a business in BA 2 use parking lot 4 about 3 hours!
Greg: If you can't find a place, use the church and you have my permission for sure right now as peace of mind backup parking lot -- I figure you might want to use a Ba location but feel free to use ours
Holly: I'll tell you what! Id be honored to use ours! Thats perfect! Thank you greg! Im goin to say from 1pm to 4pm...longer if doing well! Is that time okay?
Greg: Yes, time is perfect and if people know they can bring donations to church so pls send plans ASAP so we can put in bulletin ... our method at Garnett is to partner with groups who already doing good, so if you have a truck or place you are taking like Guts or somewhere that's great ... who's getting donations to Moore?
Holly: Were are trying 2 find a truck to take down or thinking to donate to red cross here in town. or if possible a church of christ in moore is my 1st choice! =) If you would like let beth know that we are for sure setting up at 1pm till 4pm. Taking all items..even gently used clothing and linens!Anything helps!
Greg: My experience over the years, Holly, is to get a list from Red Cross and do not stray from it and insist people bring good items from the list and then take it to a distributor like Red Cross to transport but you have to be clear what you can bring and don't try to duplicate efforts ... if Red Cross or Guts church doing something, get their list and have everybody bring what matches that distributor and take everything over there that afternoon after collection. The reason I'm directing you this way is because I've been in this situation many times and it always works better to work thru experienced organizations already taking things and do collection together and arrange to take to the spot where a truck is already gettin filled ... guts for example said they'll keep filling trucks and taking when full so if you arrange enough folks just to take a few miles to guts at 4 pm that might work as long as someone on duty at guts
Holly: I sooooo appreciate your help greg! I didnt really want to have to try to drive down there! And red cross is establisged...so is guts! I like the guts idea! =)
Holly: I value ur opinion and i like the idea of a couple trucks to guts! much easier! Thank you Greg! I really appreciate the love & support!
Greg: I pray each day to let God show me someone to give empowerment, to encourage to live out the calling of Christ where you are, so consider this a prayer answered that both of us pray! Talk to you soon.
Greg: Holly, this is a strange request but would it be OK if I added this conversation to my blog and facebook just as an example of how we talk through relief efforts at our church?
Holly: Of course, sounds fantastic! I love the idea! We are the Three Feathers Service Unit from Coweta/Porter/Broken Arrow. Our Girl Scout troop is Daisy and Brownie Troop #301. I'm so happy!