They say the greater the need the greater response. Right now the need in and around Houston is beyond comprehension and is matched only by the desire for folks to respond. Here are some ways to help:
Pray. Pray for those who are no longer in their homes. Pray for those who are home with no way of getting out. Pray for the police, the firefighters, the National Guard soldiers, the volunteers who are helping. Pray for the government officials who are tasked with prioritizing many urgent options. Really, just pray.
Give. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is a remarkably efficient. Two of the things I love about UMCOR is that all overhead is covered through One Great Hour of Sharing. That means every nickel you designate for Harvey Relief will be spent directly on this cause. The second is that UMCOR stays around. The CNN trucks will be gone from Houston in just a couple of weeks, but UMCOR will have a United Methodist presence for the long term. After Katrina the group was there for seven years, working well beyond most other organizations. Use this link to give directly to UMCOR for Disaster Response in the U.S.
Refill supplies. United Methodists are known for our flood buckets. I had the opportunity to be in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi shortly after Katrina hit. I saw UMCOR at work and I saw flood buckets (now called cleaning kits) being distributed to very grateful residents. Fortunately flood buckets are already on the way to Houston from the UMCOR Sager-Brown Depot in Louisiana. This can be a great time to get your church packing flood buckets to replenish the warehouse in anticipation of the next time they are needed. You’ll find more information about flood buckets here.
Come and help, but not right now. I know there are those of you just itching to strap on your tool belt and start helping to demo then rebuild all the houses you can. That’s a great idea, but this isn’t the time. Save those plans for the first part of 2018, once things are organized and safe. The next few weeks or even months will be far more about caring for people than it will be about fixing homes. The best way to keep up with what is needed is by following the Rio Texas Annual Conference on Facebook.
Train for the future. If you want to be better prepared to lead a group, consider attending Volunteers in Mission (VIM) Team Leader Training September 23 or November 4. You’ll find details on the East Ohio Conference Website.
But there are a couple of things not to do. Don’t send stuff. Donations of things like clothing, stuffed animals, toys or building materials require someone on the other end to receive it, catalog it, store it and distribute it. There may come a time when they ask for things like this, but that will be a while. Even things that are needed, such as bottled water, are better off being purchased through UMCOR and distributed. By the time you buy it and ship it, the effectiveness of your dollar is greatly diminished.
Finally, share this post. UMCOR is a great system but is often over shadowed by organization with better PR functions. Let folks in your circle understand that your church is at work in this area and that anyone can support the cause, no matter what they do on Sunday mornings.
One of the great advantages of our connective denomination is that we have structures and systems in place for folks to help from thousands of miles away. Whatever your abilities, plug in as you are able and help be the hands and feet of God in an area where that help is so desperately needed.