Members of North Texas church journey to Victoria to help Harvey victims in small communities
Members of a North Texas hurricane relief church team are working with the Sportsman Church in Victoria to distribute supplies to small communities affected by Hurricane Harvey.
This collaboration between StoneWater Church and Sportsman Church is focusing on areas that have not received news coverage as a result of the storms, members said.
Ministry teams have been organized to provide cooks, spiritual support and care, heavy laborers for the practical work of beginning clean up, and general cleanup inside and outside of houses, according to church officials.
This is one of many other current Texas-based relief efforts focusing on helping Harvey victims.
Providing help to the smaller towns affected by Hurricane Harvey is crucial because these towns have little to no infrastructure, explained Tom Hughes, a Stonewater member, U.S. Army veteran, and retired Fort Worth police officer.
In an Facebook post, Michelle Newsom Bentham, a membership director of the Stonewater Church, advised that the damage caused by Harvey between Corpus Christi and Victoria was formidable. Even places south and west of Victoria had simply been devastated, she said.
“The normal sources of social aid are not there because they are dealing with the same devastation their community has suffered,” Bentham stated. “The need for practical and spiritual ministry is huge.”
Hughes issued a request for help on Facebook Wednesday – and he did not mince words.
“If you are looking for a way to help with Harvey, we need hands-on help,” Hughes said in the recent Facebook post. “Hot meals, a cot with air conditioning and pride are all I can offer you.”
Open-door Church of Burleson has partnered with Stonewater to send supplies. OpenDoor put out a call for food and other provisions to it’s membership. Those donations, along with a truckload of food from the OpenDoor Food Bank, were taken to Stonewater where they were added to their supplies and sent to the Gulf Coast.
As the church volunteers worked in earnest Wednesday, their friends and family posted messages on Facebook to get the word out to potential volunteers: Help is needed.
“Our friend Tom Hughes needs boots on the ground in Victoria,” Karen Sue Blaize wrote in one FB post. “Can you help? Message him.”
Meanwhile, Sue Peronnet Hughes (Tom Hughes’ wife) and Annie Penrice posted on Facebook to get information out about the rescue efforts and word out about a special donation page set up for Harvey victims.
Penrice was quick to emphasize the donation is not a hoax or a scam.
“I will vouch for them,” Penrice stated of the Hugheses in her FB post. “Their fundraising will go where they say, so anyone who feel driven to contribute please know your money will go to those who truly need it.”
On Wednesday, Hughes reported that supplies and volunteers are coming in from all over the state to help. As many as 60 volunteers were participating on Wednesday.
“We’re kind of at ground zero of starting this relief effort,” Hughes said.
Hughes said the volunteers were working together effectively.
“Items are being picked up as fast as we can unload the 18-wheeler,” he said.
Ben Tinsley, (702) 524-3773, is editor and senior reporter of the Burleson Star in Burleson, Texas.