United Methodist Giving Tops $1 Million* for Haiti

January 17, 2010

A UMNS Report
By Linda Bloom

By Saturday evening (January 16) United Methodists had raised more than $1 million for relief work in Haiti. [*UPDATE: More than $2 million had been received as of January 20.] 
 
The donations to the United Methodist Committee on Relief will support its efforts to respond to those most in need following the devastating January 12 earthquake. An estimated 2 million to 3 million people need immediate assistance.
 
In a statement, Bishop Joel Martinez of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, UMCOR's parent agency, said he was thankful "for the overwhelming generosity," but encouraged further gifts.
 
"This is heartening but needs to be multiplied many times over," he said. "We believe that contributions to UMCOR at worship on Sunday (January 17) will be a powerful testament to the love of United Methodists for those in crisis."
 
UMCOR staff was expected to arrive in the Dominican Republic sometime over the weekend. The agency's emergency response efforts will be coordinated with a variety of partners, including Church World Service, Action by Churches Together, Global Medic, Muslim Aid, and the Methodist Church of Haiti.
 
The Rev. Lloyd Rollins, a United Methodist pastor and former UMCOR executive who now works for the Washington-based International Relief and Development, was hoping to be in Haiti by January 16.
 
He is part of a three-person team from his agency that will expand to about a dozen team members over the next two to three weeks. "We're going in to participate in the early assessment, particularly with USAID and the U.N. organizations," Rollins said while awaiting a flight to the Dominican Republic at the Miami airport on January 15. "We will be offering assistance to partner agencies in the relief stage, mostly in-kind donations. Then, we'll move into the longer-term issues."
 
Church World Service had two staff members arriving in Haiti, according to the Rev. John McCullough, a United Methodist who serves as its top executive. The agency has sent funds to local partners in Haiti. Another partner agency in the Dominican Republic is sending kits and blankets to Haiti from its warehouse in Santo Domingo, and will assist with getting other aid into Haiti.
 
Stop Hunger Now, the Raleigh, North Carolina-based food organization, has become a focal point for gathering resources for Haiti, says the Rev. Ray Buchanan. "We’ve got a 747 (jet) full of aid to go out on Sunday," he added.
 
Buchanan, a United Methodist pastor, said Stop Hunger Now had shipped a million and a half packaged meals to Haiti in the last two months. Its three local partners in that endeavor "have been using our meals already to feed earthquake victims."
 
United Methodists in Virginia are setting up "packaging events" to stockpile more meals, he reported, and the denomination's Mississippi Conference is arranging for every district to hold packaging events throughout 2010 for Haiti relief.
 
"The church is responding in a wonderful way, showing initiative to make sure something happens," Buchanan said.
 
Although it is too early to send volunteer teams, UMCOR is encouraging church members to collect health kits for distribution in Haiti.
 
UMCOR Sager Brown is coordinating a shipment of health kits to provide individuals with basic necessities. Instructions for assembling and shipping health kits are available here.
 
Gifts to support UMCOR's Haiti Relief efforts may be made on line, by phone, or by check.
 
Click here to make an online donation to Haiti relief through UMCOR Advance #418325. You may also phone 800-554-8583.
 
Your church will receive credit for your donation if you select your church's name from the dropdown list.
 
If you prefer to write a check and want your church to receive credit on its Apportionments statement, do not make the check payable to Haiti Relief:
 
Make checks PAYABLE to CA-NV Annual Conference and note "Haiti Relief, Advance # 418325" on the MEMO LINE.
 
You may drop your check in the offering plate at church or mail to CA-NV Treasurer, P.O. Box 980250, West Sacramento, CA 95798.
 
(Checks made payable to Haiti Relief should be mailed directly to Advance GCFA, P.O. Box 9068, GPO New York, NY 10087-9068.)
 
The entire amount of each gift will be used to help the people of Haiti.
 
Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.