By Stan Friedman
BRONX, NY (November 6, 2012) – Several vehicles, including a U-Haul truck carrying relief supplies from churches in the Great Lakes Conference (GLC) of the Evangelical Covenant Church, arrived at the Kingsbridge Armory on Monday to help survivors of Hurricane Sandy.
Conference churches received special offerings on Sunday for the supplies. So far, more than $33,000 has been donated.
Twenty-six members from three churches traveled here to distribute the supplies and assist with other relief work at the armory and will return home Wednesday.
Teams from two Michigan churches – Faith Covenant Church in Farmington Hills and LifeChurch in Canton – left Monday morning with food and other items. New Harvest Christian Church of Toledo, Ohio, brought medical supplies donated by Covenant Community Care.
The first two teams arrived Monday evening. The New Harvest group arrived at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Jody Eidnes, GLC office administrator, organized and traveled with the teams to New York. She said she was awed by the amount of goods being distributed. “Since Friday, they’ve given away about $140,000 of product.”
Donations have continued to come to the GLC office and are quickly put to use. “The money goes out as fast as it comes in,” Eidnes said from the armory shortly before making another run to a local store to purchase several thousand dollars worth of goods.
The items are being distributed to the most needy communities – the Rockaways section of Queens, Staten Island, and Lower Manhattan, said Howard Burgoyne, East Coast Conference superintendent.
The relief work at the armory is taking place in conjunction with other churches, organizations, the National Guard, as well as state and federal government agencies. “It has been well-coordinated,” said Eidnes.
Michael Carrion, pastor of Promised Land Covenant Church, is one of the leaders overseeing the entire operation at the armory. “I haven’t slept in days,” he said.
The excitement in his voice betrays any exhaustion, however. Instead, he gushes about the work of volunteers.
“It’s been a 24-7 operation,” he said. “When the bus from Toledo got in at 3 a.m., there were people here to unload it.”
Carrion said he has been overwhelmed by the support of the Covenant. “The way they have mobilized and cared and supported us is just incredible. It brings tears to my eyes.”
Carrion and others said the goods supplied by the Great Lakes Conference were desperately needed, but the best way for Covenanters to help in the near future is with financial contributions.
“Money can be put to use much faster than having people come here,” Carrion said. He also expressed concern about the availability of resources.
“Gas is in such short supply,” Carrion said. “It’s like a ‘Mad Max’ movie. People are literally fighting over gas.”
Burgoyne said the worsening weather is heightening the misery of survivors left homeless or without power. “The situation is really desperate for thousands of people now that the temperatures dropped last night below freezing.”
Another storm possibly packing winds of more than 60 mph was expected to hit last evening or sometime today, with temperatures dropping into the 20s.
Those desiring to contribute to the relief work can do so through the East Coast Conference or Covenant World Relief websites. The East Coast Conference has said it will match up to $25,000 in donations from churches within the conference.