Local church helping with hurricane relief effort
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Members of an Atmore church’s congregation are joining rescue workers and relief agencies from around the country in providing what help they can to Florida residents who were battered and bloodied when Hurricane Michael — the third-most intense hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. — made landfall in the Panama City area last week.
More than 100 members of Grace Fellowship Church “work teams” are making regular trips to the devastated area, mostly to help clear paths among the trees and other debris for public safety personnel to reach the hardest-hit neighborhoods.
“We took some teams down last weekend, and we will probably do that for the next three or four weekends,” said Pastor Glenn Weber, who said such groups would be sent southward on Thursday, Friday and Sunday of this week. “Right now we’re doing cleanup, a lot of chain saws and grunt work.”
Weber said there are several reasons the local church took such action.
“We have a connection, in terms of the number of our people who have parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in the area that was hit,” he said. “Also, we as a church are part of Good News Fellowship, and we have several sister churches down there. Rivertown Community Church, has campuses in Blountstown, Marianna and Chipley, places that were pretty hard hit, and we are reaching out to help them.”
Along with its boots-on-the-ground help, Grace Fellowship has also launched a campaign to provide further help.
“We had a couple of generous donors who put up $5,000,” said Weber. “We’re trying to match that so we can buy a hundred $100 gift cards for local residents down there.”
The church is also collecting diapers, baby formula, baby wipes and general cleaning supplies that will be turned over to Rivertown Community Church for distribution to individuals and families who most need them.
“People can drop those things off at the church [located on Highway 31] from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday,” he said. “We’ll make sure the right people get them.”
If the initial monetary goal is surpassed, any extra funds would be used to enhance the relief effort.
“If we collect more than our $10,000 goal we will buy more gift cards or help if another need arises,” he said. “No matter how much money we raise, 100 percent of it will go to those affected by Hurricane Michael.”
First United Methodist Church Atmore is also collecting money and general cleaning supplies for victims of Michael, which claimed at least 18 lives. For details, call the church office at 368-8197.