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Dear friends in Christ,
Relief efforts in response to widespread damage caused by Hurricane Isabel continue full force across the eastern United States. Lutheran Disaster Response (a cooperative ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) is working directly with LCMS districts, ELCA synods, Lutheran social ministry organizations, and interfaith partners in West Virginia, Washington D.C., North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. Lutheran congregations are assisting in distributing emergency supplies, offering shelter, preparing food, coordinating local volunteers. Many of you are asking how to help.
"To help people affected by Hurricane Isabel, go to your bank account, not your closet or food pantry," advises Rick Augsburger, director of Emergency Response at Church World Service. "Cash is always preferred over material donations. With cash donations, organizations responding to disasters can quickly acquire exactly what is needed based on damage assessments," he explains. "Cash also can purchase goods and services in the disaster-stricken community and thus boost its economy at a critical time."
"Material donations often aggravate the disaster," Augsburger says. "Sometimes, they aren't needed - usually the case with clothing and food. Or they may be needed when they are shipped, but not needed when they arrive at the disaster site because needs change from day to day in the aftermath of a disaster. And material donations, even if appropriate, entail shipping, storage, sorting, and distribution costs."
"In short, cash donations facilitate effective, efficient use of disaster response resources in addressing needs," Augsburger summarizes. "Material donations usually add to the cost." So to whom should you give your money?
"Look to experienced volunteer disaster response agencies first," Augsburger advises, "one recognized for a particular role in disaster response. "They provide valuable assistance for people to rebuild their lives physically and spiritually. Yet they're often strapped for funds for these vital services."
CWS and its member communions, including Lutheran Disaster Response, work in long-term recovery, focusing on the unmet needs not addressed by organizations providing the initial response. Faith groups typically help disaster survivors develop their own recovery plans and work with them to get assistance they need to fully recover. They also send volunteers to disaster sites to repair and rebuild homes. Your money goes to work to support long-term recovery and rehabilitation.
How can you help?
Your prayers help to support those who are affected by Hurricane Isabel and those who are responding on your behalf.
Your volunteer hours - either in this initial clean-up time or when repairs begin - give immediate hands-on witness to God's love.
Your cash donations enable LDR to be an active recovery participant both now and for the long haul.
ELCA DOMESTIC Disaster Response - "Hurricane Isabel"
PO Box 71764
Chicago, Illinois 60694-1764
Credit card gift line: 1-800-638-3522
Credit card gifts via the web: www.elca.org/disaster
LC-MS World Relief
P.O. Box 66861
St. Louis, MO 63166-9810
Credit card gift line: 1-888-930-4438
Yours in Christ,
Gilbert B. Furst (written on Friday October 3, 2003 at 1:40 p.m.). Director for ELCA Domestic Disaster Response (Division for Church in Society) and Lutheran Disaster Response (a cooperative ministry of the ELCA and LC-MS) 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago 60631 PHONE: 773-380-2822 FAX: 773-380-2493 Please visit our new website