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Hurricane Ike creates need for more volunteers, more disaster relief funds

Texas Baptist groups serving in the wake of Hurricane Ike primarily are in need of two things—volunteers and funds.

The response to Hurricane Dolly, Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike has stretched volunteers across the state. Anecdotal reports indicate volunteers are in increasingly harder to find, especially in specialty areas. Those who are serving are being pushed by long hours with little time to decompress.

Texas Baptist Men has more than 1,400 volunteers working through East Texas in the wake of the storm and attempts to relieve volunteers within two weeks, creating a need for a vast number of trained volunteers.

Baptist Child & Family Services has many medical personnel serving in its San Antonio shelters and is looking for additional volunteers with medical experience.

People who want to volunteer through Texas Baptist groups or institutions can call the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which is serving as a clearinghouse for volunteers and volunteer opportunities, at (888) 244-9400.

“Texas Baptist Men, Baptist Child & Family Services, Texas Baptists across the state who are sheltering hurricane evacuees, and those in Southeast Texas who are spontaneously responding to the needs to those affected by Hurricane Ike are doing a tremendous job,” said Wayne Shuffield, director of the BGCT Missions, Evangelism and Ministry Team. “But with an effort like this, they need help. This is a task God is calling all Texas Baptists to.”

The scale of the devastation left by Hurricane Ike also is stretching accounts. The BGCT’s disaster response fund, which provides family support for people affected by disasters, supports some Texas Baptist Men ministry and aids the BGCT Executive Board staff in connecting needs and resources, is dangerously low, according to Shuffield.

All BGCT disaster relief efforts are funded by designated offerings.

About $150,000 remains in the account, which could seriously hamper Texas Baptist relief efforts in the area. Mobilizing a single feeding unit and its team can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and TBM has activated all of its mobile kitchens.

“Along with direct gifts to Texas Baptist Men disaster relief, the Baptist General Convention of Texas is one of the primary partners of TBM’s ministry in the wake of disasters,” said Leo Smith, TBM executive director. “The destruction left behind by Hurricane Ike is going to require substantial resources. We pray Texas Baptists will be generous in their support of disaster relief ministries as they always have so we can continue sharing the hope of Christ in trying situations.”

In the coming weeks and months, the BGCT will begin to work through local churches to provide financial assistance to Baptists who were affected by Ike.

“The BGCT Disaster Response Fund will directly help ease the troubles and pain of people affected by Hurricane Ike,” Shuffield said. “Texas Baptists are seeking to provide hope and help for people in their time of need.”

All of the money designated through the BGCT for disaster response supports disaster response ministries. To give to the BGCT Disaster Response Fund, visit www.bgct.org/disaster. Checks designated “disaster relief” also can be sent to BGCT, P.O. Box 159007, Dallas 75315-9007.
 

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