BARBOURVILLE, Ky. – Churchgoers in the Appalachian foothills are doing their part to help victims of a series of devastating hurricanes, raising nearly $20,000 to help them get back on their feet.
Seymour Wattenbarger, director of missions in the Knox County Association of Baptists, said residents of southeastern Kentucky, an area prone to flooding, are especially sympathetic to others who have been impacted by storms because they know what it’s like.
“These are some of the most generous and most caring people in the world,” Wattenbarger said. “When they see others hurting, they’ll give the shirts off their backs to help. They’ll also open their wallets to help.”
Wattenbarger asked the 43 churches in the Knox association, many of them small rural congregations, to take up offerings to help hurricane victims. The money would be funneled through Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, which has volunteer teams serving in Texas and Florida and on standby for service in the Virgin Islands. As of Tuesday, Knox County Baptists had contributed $18,734.
By giving through Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, Wattenbarger said, donors are guaranteed that every penny will be used to assist victims. Unlike some other relief organizations, none of the money given through Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief is used for administrative costs.
“I’m always amazed, but not surprised, by the desire of these good people to help others in need,” Wattenbarger said. “We live in a region that is often portrayed in the national media as impoverished, and yet they have really stepped up to help.”
Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief will remain on the ground in hurricane-ravaged communities long after the nation’s attention has turned elsewhere. So far, hundreds of trained Disaster Relief volunteers have responded. They’re cutting away fallen trees, patching leaky roofs, shoveling mud from flooded homes, cooking and serving thousands of meals for people who have no food, no electricity and, in many cases, no homes in which to cook. They’re also providing mobile shower units, where hurricane victims and responders, can clean themselves up, as well as mobile laundry units where they can also wash their clothing.
Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Director Coy Webb has been reminding donors that authorities are discouraging shipments of clothing and bottled water that have been piling up and going unused. Webb said financial contributions are best because that assures victims will get what they need to restore their damaged homes.