By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
At least two Atmore churches and a local school are doing what they can to help residents of Florida’s panhandle region piece together the remnants of the lives they lived before Hurricane Michael tore the area apart two weeks ago.
Escambia County Middle School, First United Methodist Church Atmore and Grace Fellowship Church have each launched relief efforts that include boots-on-the-ground help, preloaded gift cards and supplies of virtually every sort.
ECMS students, faculty and staff are collecting a wide range of items, from diapers and wipes to bottled water and Gatorade, non-perishable food, first aid kits, cleaning supplies and personal hygiene supplies. The list also includes Styrofoam coolers, gas cans, batteries, extension cords and similar items.
“This is a collective project of all the ECMS school organizations,” explained Special Education Teacher Melissa Daniel. “The FBLA [Future Business Leaders of America] and Project A-STEM afterschool program are heading it up, with the help of every club or group in our school.”
The effort began on October 16 and will end this Friday, October 26. Donations can be dropped off at the school during school hours. The collected items will be picked up and loaded on the semi on Friday and delivered to the Lynn Haven, Fla. area on Sunday.
For a complete list of items being accepted, visit the school’s Facebook page.
FUMC Atmore is collecting supplies for cleaning kits and hygiene kits, as well as encouraging direct monetary donations to the Annual Conference, which will redirect the funds to churches in the affected area.
Pastor Brennan Peacock pointed out that United Methodists are not only seeking supplies and money to help hurricane victims, but are also soliciting another type of help.
“First, we are invited to pray,” Peacock said. “Our prayers for one another connect us with each other and to God in the midst of our suffering and uncertainty. It is a source of hope and assurance that our connection to God and to each other intensifies through prayer, especially in the midst of deep brokenness and hurt.”
Instructions and a list of accepted items may be found on the church’s Facebook page or by visiting https://www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies or https://www.awfumc.org/hurricanemichaelsupplylist. Once the kits have been assembled, they should be brought to the church at 311 South Pensacola Avenue from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
For more information on how to help, visit firstname.lastname@example.org or call 251-368-8197.
Grace Fellowship began sending work crews to the Marianna-Chipley-Blountstown area immediately after the hurricane left Florida and continued its destructive path through Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.
The local church is also collecting money and supplies for those whose lives were torn apart by the hurricane, which leveled many cities and communities much like Katrina did to Mississippi and Louisiana in 2005.
Grace Fellowship is also collecting money to buy gift cards for distribution to stricken individuals and families, as well as cleaning supplies, hygiene supplies and items for babies.
Items may be brought to the church, located at 1412 East Nashville Avenue (U.S. 31), between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, call 368-4463.