What happened in Butte County last week, and its aftermath, is beyond the scope of our imagination. We feel compelled to help – those of us with intact families and homes, warm beds, and safe drinking water – and those of us who remember what not having those things is like. But what can we do?
It may feel impersonal, but making a cash donation is the most helpful thing you can do right now. Giving to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) or to the conference’s Disaster Response Fund ensures that your donation will be applied where it can be the most helpful, based on a local assessment of needs.
If you would like to give to the conference fund, make your check payable to “California-Nevada Annual Conference” and write “CN Disaster Fund” on the memo line. Mail to the California-Nevada Conference Center, P.O. Box 980250, West Sacramento, CA 95798-0250. You may also DONATE HERE.
If giving through UMCOR, you may CLICK HERE to donate to US Disaster Response. (Read about other options for giving to UMCOR here.)
Donations of goods, unless specifically requested, are not helpful because of the time required to process those items, match them with needs, and distribute them. (Conference Disaster Response Director Sonja Edd-Bennett suggests that you have a yard sale to get rid of unwanted but useful items, and give the proceeds, instead of donating the items themselves.)
If you want to contribute something that seems more tangible than a monetary donation, however, assembling Relief Supply Kits is a good option. Relief kits are needed in the present disaster and – unfortunately – the need for them will never go away. This page gives the necessary information about types of kits, their content and assembly, and where to send them.
If you’d like to be in the thick of the action when it comes to disaster response, consider attending an Early Response Team training. The next available training (rescheduled from Nov. 17 because of the Camp Fire) will be Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Conference Center, 1350 Halyard Drive, West Sacramento, CA 95691. This standardized class is required for the basic ERT UMCOR identification badge, and that badge is necessary for deployment to a disaster area as an UMCOR volunteer. Get details here. Volunteers are typically needed within the 2nd or 3rd week of the fire, and then throughout the next 1-2 years. In the case of the Camp Fire, the need is anticipated to extend well beyond that.
Finally, do not forget to pray. Pray for the survivors, the first responders (many of whom are also survivors), for the volunteers who face a mammoth undertaking, for our United Methodist pastors and congregation members who have been displaced, for our ecumenical partners who have lost churches and homes as well, and for those who will resource them spiritually.
What happened in Butte County is, indeed, beyond the scope of our imagination. The Bible says that what God can do is, too.