With its balmy breezes and white sands Haiti is a world away from Tennessee.
But when an earthquake of a deadly magnitude hit the island last week, its inhabitants became neighbors for the people here.
As Sunday services convened across Campbell County, the Haitians were not only remembered in prayer but also when the collection plates were passed. For a country torn apart by natural disaster no donation was too small.
UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, was already on the ground when the quake hit, said Dr. Kenny Faught, of the LaFollette United Methodist Church. With an “ongoing presence” in the small country UMCOR has many missions in process. Currently, UMCOR is waiting for the country to stabilize before it sends additional staff to aid in the recovery effort, Faught said. But that doesn’t mean the contributions have to wait.
“People can give online,” Faught said. By visiting www.umcor.org people can make a monetary contribution or view the exact items the teams believe will be needed once they hit the ground. “These items will be used wherever they are needed,” Faught said.
Father Joe Campbell, of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, said a special offering was held there during Sunday’s Mass. Given the extent of damage caused by the quake, Campbell said he was not surprised to see people digging a little deeper to give to others.
“This was a major, major deal,” he said comparing it to the tsunami of 2004.
As with the Methodists, the Catholics also already had mission teams on the island, when the upheaval unfolded. In fact, many Catholic churches have sister parishes in Haiti, he said.
In order to help those people and others affected by the quake, the Catholic Church is urging its members to make monetary contribution. “Everybody says it’s much better to make (monetary) donations,” Campbell said adding that shipping items into the area was becoming a problem.
To donate to the rescue effort through the Catholic Church visit www.dioknox.org.
Also joining in the relief effort are the Southern Baptists.
Joann Kelley, the associational secretary for the Campbell County Baptist Association, said they too were “encouraging people to give.”
Kelley said last week’s tragedy hit close to home for all of those who had been reaching out to the island through the years. While financial donations can be made at www.flbaptist.org, Kelley said the Florida Baptist Convention had made arrangements with an airfreight company to put supplies on the ground. The same web address for cash donations can provide information on needed supplies, she said.
Covenant Life International Church is also joining the Haitian aid effort.
This week donations can be taken to the Lake City church on a daily basis during regular business hours. Once collected the items will be loaded on tractor-trailers and driven to Miami, Fl for shipment to Haiti.
CLI members are asking for donations of blankets, sheets, diapers, pillows, and powdered baby formula. For more information on CLI’s efforts call (865)426-4448.
But it is not just churches that have rallied to help.
Girl Scout Troop 913 is joining the cause as well.
Tomorrow night at 6:30 at the LaFollette United Methodist Church, the troop will be taking part in the annual cookie rally/friendship day event. While there, the troop’s table will have a table display on the island of Haiti along with information on how that nation had been affected by the earthquake. The girls will also be accepting donations of supplies to later be shipped to those in need.