Monday, May 16, 2011

When Help Isn't Helpful

I don't know if you saw this article about donations flowing in to Alabama after the tornados. In brief the article says that they have received so much stuff - some of it useful but most of it not - that they are inundated and the tasks of finding storage space and sorting through the piles of used underwear and broken toys to get to the few things they can actually use is a huge challenge.

This seems to happen after every major disaster - people want to help - but in trying to help they get in the way- I remember a friend who was helping out after 9/11 at St. Paul's Chapel where the rescue workers were being fed and counselled and otherwise cared for. She talked about the 4 truckloads of stuffed animals that people sent. It was a nice thought - but they had no use for stuffed animals and had to either dispose of them (and pay for it) or figure out where they could be used and get them there.

Uniformally those who work in post-disaster relief say that the most useful thing that people can do is send money. With money they can purchase exactly what they need in ways that they can process efficiently or provide funds to victims directly - with the added benefit that purchasing things locally helps the economy begin to recover.

Our Christian instinct is to help those in need - but we need to be sure that our help if really helpful - not just what we want to give but what is really needed.

That's part of the reason I'm so proud of all of you - for example $285 for Japan just from people's donations - well done.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Great things are happening

It has been a busy couple of weeks at St. Paul's. Holy Week and Easter and then this past week which was bookended by a visit from our new Bishop on his first day as Bishop and the ECW basket auction.

It got me thinking about everything that is going on at St. Paul's. The Bishop mentioned his first impression of our church - when he was at my house for dinner and came over to see the church on a Tuesday night and met the NA group, our Stewarship committee and the Diocesan Cursillo Secretariat all in the space.

We had the basket auction on Saturday which meant nearly 80 people, most of who aren't members here, in the building for a day of fun. We have a carnival this coming Saturday (1 - 3 come!) where St. Paul's people and members of the Venture Crew and the Boy Scout troop will join together to raise money for the people in Japan. We have the last in the series of forums on care for the Elderly on the 19th. We have another coffee hour contest, the parish picnic and Sunday School awards coming up in June.

I just wanted to take a minute and say thank you - and pat ourselves on the back for a minute - we are a busy, happening place.