Written by Connie Larkman
While the people on the west coast, for the most part, didn't feel the impact of Hurricane Sandy, a Long Beach, Calif. ministry of the United Church of Christ is reaching out to those in the storm's path in a big way.
Retirement Housing Foundation (RHF), a member of the UCC's Council for Health and Human Services Ministries (CHHSM) is pledging to match all donations it receives for Hurricane Sandy before Dec. 1 – up to $50,000. The goal of RHF: to send as much as 100 thousand dollars to One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) for Hurricane Sandy relief.
"We have seen pictures of incredible destruction and feel we must respond as we have with natural disasters in the past," said Dr. Laverne Joseph, President and CEO of RHF. "All funds collected will be forwarded to OGHS, along with matching funds from RHF."
One Great Hour of Sharing is an interdenominational effort (of which the UCC is a part) to make "the love of Christ real for individuals and communities around the world who suffer the effects of disaster …"
The UCC's Disaster Ministries has already pledged OGHS dollars to long-term hurricane relief. The storm cut a long, wide and deadly path across the Caribbean in addition to the devastation caused in the United States.
The UCC is providing financial support to ACT Alliance partners in the Haiti and Cuba. Through Church World Service, donations are going to assist 360 families with emergency family food packages and water in Cuba, along with blankets and hygiene kits. As many as 1,000 other families will get help rebuilding their homes following the damaging winds and floods. In Haiti, help will be going to areas needing emergency and development assistance after co-operative camps were ravaged Hurricane Sandy, where people have lost buildings, gardens and livestock. In the U.S., the UCC is working with churches and conferences to address the needs and requests of those who need help.
Sandy is the fourth natural disaster that RHF has responded to with matching funds. Donors can go to the RHF website to participate in this matching fund drive.
Since Hurricane Sandy struck two weeks ago, the UCC Disaster Ministries team has raised almost $50,000 for relief efforts, primarily through online donations. The UCC will direct 100 percent of all donations received for the designated Hurricane Sandy fund toward long-term, community-wide disaster relief efforts spanning across all 17 affected states in the United States.