KISSIMMEE, Fla. (Jan. 2, 2017) – Evacuees from Puerto Rico received a huge Christmas present from Holston Conference when 1,300 school kits and 1,000 hygiene kits were delivered to a church in Florida on Dec. 21.
“Today was indeed a blessing and a testimony that the connection works,” said the Rev. Harry Howe, who drove a trailer from Marion, Va., to deliver the supplies to First United Methodist Church of Kissimmee.
The school and hygiene kits were collected by Holston churches over a few weeks this fall. The drive was organized to help Puerto Rican students who were relocated to Florida after devastation caused by Hurricane Maria shut down their schools.
Jim Fetzer, Holston Conference disaster response coordinator, said he organized the collection of supplies with the Florida Conference after participating in a teleconference with UMCOR concerning hurricane response.
Holston Conference includes 874 congregations in east Tennesseee, southwest Virginia, and north Georgia.
Students at First UMC of Kissimmee helped unload the kits for the Florida Conference. Facebook photos posted by United Methodists in the Florida Conference showed kits prepared by LaFollette United Methodist Church and Bearden United Methodist Church.
“The next time someone asks me what does it mean for the UMC to be connectional, I will show them these pictures,” a Facebook post declared.
More than 215,000 Puerto Ricans arrived in Florida since early October, CBS News recently reported. One study estimates more than 470,000 people will leave Puerto Rico over two years.
Nearly half of residents on the island remain without power three months after Hurricane Maria, according to USA Today.
The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference recently launched a $100,000 fundraising campaign to help the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico in its disaster recovery efforts.
Contact Annette Spence at email@example.com
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.