Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The images and reports from Houston and coastal South Texas are overwhelming. Our brothers and sisters down there are in great distress. Our Bishop, George Sumner, has called on every member of the church to be in prayer for those suffering from the effects of Hurricane Harvey and the flooding. I heartily repeat that exhortation here.
In addition to prayer, many of us are asking, "How else can I help?" With the goal of turning motivation into action, and along with the help of Dana Jean, we've put together the following suggestions (there is a more complete list on our Hands & Feet Facebook page):
- Donate to Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD): ERD has set up a Hurricane Harvey Fund to provide emergency assistance to people recovering from the impact of flooding after this major storm. Funds raised will supply critical necessities for communities immediately and for the long-term as they recover and rebuild. ERD was very generous to our diocese in the aftermath of the Christmas tornadoes a couple of years ago! Donations can be made on-line at www.episcopalrelief.org or mailed to: Episcopal Relief & Development, Hurricane Harvey Fund, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058 (Note: The simple fact of the matter is that in disaster response, cash is best.)
- Donate Blood to Carter BloodCare: Saturday and Sunday (9/1 & 9/2) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., there will be a bus parked at Allen Event Center. Carter has been called on to act as the supply hub for South Texas. High water vehicles are picking up units collected here and dispersing them throughout South Texas as needed. If you're interested, you can also visit our Donor Center in Allen — the address is: 1328 W McDermott Dr #250, Allen, TX 75013 (Note: Flooding doesn't directly cause blood loss; but with the travel restrictions and infrastructure damage, it causes the loss of blood donations, which in turn causes shortages.)
- Donate to the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB): NTFB is working closely with Mass Care Task Force partners (including Red Cross) to ensure food needs for evacuees in local shelters are being met. Three shelters are currently open in Dallas, and Tuesday, a mega-shelter will open at Dallas Convention Center to house approximately 5,000 evacuees. At this time, donated goods are not needed. Currently, monetary donations are the most effective way that you can support our efforts.
- Donate Items to the Good Shepherd Parent's Day Out and the SPCA: The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Dallas is welcoming evacuee children into their Parents Day Out program, and has a list of items currently needed by the families (particularly diapers, bottles, and clothes). These items can be brought to St. Andrew's. Also, the SPCA in North Texas is getting all adoptable pets at the shelters here in McKinney and in Dallas, and is collecting donations of litter, litter boxes, towels, blankets, large wire crates, toys, treats, pet beds, newspaper and gas gift cards. Donations can be brought to the SPCA in McKinney at 8411 Stacy Rd.
Stephanie and I had the surreal experience last night of seeing a priest with whom we had worked on CNN. She wasn't being interviewed. She and her family were being rescued — by boat — out of the second story of their home. I know that many of you have friends and family that live in the affected areas as well, and are living these hours in great anxiety. May God's peace be with you, and good news of their safety travel fast.
Lord Jesus, you once spoke peace to the raging storm to comfort and protect your people. Speak now to the wind and waves of Hurricane Harvey, and let your church be the voice of hope in the midst of destruction and displacement, for your tender mercy's sake. Amen.