JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (ABP) — Across Florida and the southeast United States, individuals, families, churches, businesses, and non-profit organizations will undoubtedly want to do something to assist those hit hardest by Hurricane Charley. But determining what that is may often be difficult.
“Don't just show up,” pleaded one Florida state emergency official. “Confirm there is a job to do before you leave.”
Organizations across the spectrum — from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and its' state affiliates to the American Red Cross — are mobilizing to assist persons in Florida and up the East Coast where Hurricane Charley left death and devastation in its path.
CBF has designated $10,000 for the relief effort and has established coordinated volunteer relief services in both Charlotte County/Fort Myers and Lee County/Venice and Arcadia along Florida's west central coast. Jimmy Lewis, missions coordinator for Georgia CBF will be the onsite coordinator. CBF national disaster-relief coordinator David Harding will be organizing relief in the Orlando area.
Two CBF-related churches will provide housing and meals for volunteers in Charlotte and Lee counties. Persons interested in volunteering through the CBF network should contact First Baptist Church of Fort Myers (Charlotte County) at (239) 334-7747 or South Venice Baptist Church, David Burgess (Lee County) at (941) 493-0022.
Also mobilizing are Southern Baptist Convention disaster-relief teams from across the country. Baptist groups from Florida, Texas, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama already have been called into service.
Two Texas Baptist Men units have been dispatched. The East Texas Unit is traveling to High Springs to prepare meals. The TBM Incident Command Center is headed to the state to coordinate communication efforts between Baptist disaster-relief workers already on site.
The American Red Cross' website, www.redcross.org, has extensive information about shelters and relief efforts, and includes a quick and easy link to make online donations.
“Make no mistake: there are lots of needs,' said Linda Reed Brown, associate director of domestic response for the Church World Service Emergency Response Program. “If you are in the area directly impacted by Hurricane Charley, and you receive a specific request for goods from a local social service agency, then you need to honor that. But if you don't live in the area that was devastated, the best way to help is to make a cash donation to your denomination's disaster-response fund.
“These funds will support the recovery efforts of local churches and local communities,” she said.
Donations for disaster relief will be accepted through the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on either the state or national levels. The address for Florida CBF is P.O. Box 2556, Lakeland, FL 33806-2556. National CBF is P.O. Box 101699, Atlanta, Ga. 30392. Checks should be made payable to CBF and designated for “Hurricane Charley relief.”