In the wake of a disaster, there is the instant reaction to want to help and as we watched the video footage from Moore, Oklahoma this week, many of felt the need to do something. This is wonderful, very American and very Christian thing to do. But it’s important to remember what is helpful and what isn’t at this point.
The most helpful is prayer. Prayer for those who lost family members and those whose families are hurting. Those who lost everything and those who are helping those with losses. Those whose week was filled with grief, agony and disbelief.
Second is money. There are two wonderful United Methodist organizations ready to collect money and get it to the best places to good with it.
You can also give through the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation. Bill Junk and his staff at the Foundation are incredibly involved in the ministries of their Annual Conference and have set up a fund to help in whatever way is most needed. The Foundation’s office is only about a dozen miles from Moore, so I assure you they know what is going on.
The advantage to both UMCOR and the Oklahoma UM Foundation is they will collect no overheard or administrative fees on your gift. Every nickel will go directly to disaster relief and recovery efforts.
The reason UMCOR is able to not charge any overhead is because these costs are covered by One Great Hour of Sharing, one of our special offerings. If your church did not participate in this in March, consider doing so at another time this year.
The third thing they need is help, eventually. If you have a group what wants to come down to Oklahoma and lend a helping hand, plan to do so in the fall. Summers are brutally hot in OKC, but more importantly the area will need time to get organized and assess its needs and put together a plan to put you to work.
What they don’t need is stuff. Heartfelt donations of clothing, food, bottled water, etc. is a great gesture on our end but can be a nightmare on their end. All of these things have to be received, stored, sorted, distributed and tracked. In a huge destruction area like a hurricane it can be difficult to find what is needed. But a tornado is an isolated incident and grocery stores, home centers and malls are still open just a few miles away.
To want to help is Christian. To want to help in the best way possible is good stewardship.