We have seen the great devastation in the aftermath of tornadoes in our nation recently.
How can we help? What can we do? There are so many organizations who try to assist but are bogged down with bureaucratic problems, and so help is so slow in response. I remember when the Landers earthquake hit near us in California some years ago. The Red Cross and others had difficulty in really meeting the needs of the local residents who were homeless and shaken emotionally.
Yes, we can pray. Yes, we can call and encourage some. But, sometimes we are given opportunities to act in very physical ways to share our love and compassion. That happened to me in the last two days.
On Wednesday, I received a phone call from the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of Coronado Stone, a man named Brian. He quickly informed me that Lennar Homes (a major building corporation) had contacted all their suppliers, trade partners and consultants to join them in a project for those affected in Joplin, Missouri, and other cities destroyed by tornado activity. Lennar wanted to do something that would directly benefit families and individuals. (Coronado Stone is a major supplier of materials for their homes.) Lennar was setting up a staging area at their West Coast corporate headquarters in Aliso Viejo (Orange County), California, on Friday (today) for drop-offs. They have a direct connection with another organization that will be trucking the food and supplies immediately to the hardest hit areas, beginning in Joplin.
So, I was called to help Coronado Stone gather up supplies and food to take to Lennar. I was given a check on Thursday (yesterday) morning around 8:30 am. I was given instructions to buy: (1) as much food and drinking water as possible at our local food bank, (2) tarps, duct tape and rope, and (3) towels and wash cloths.
I had some men from the church help as we set out to accomplish our mission.
First, we first went to the food bank and bought food and drink at the price of 18 cents per pound, no matter what we bought. We went through the warehouse and purchased over $380 worth of food supplies. The weight of all we took out was nearly 2 tons (almost 4,000 pounds). All of the items were non-perishable, naturally -- pasta, crackers, cookies, cans of vegetables, water and so much more.
Next, we went over to Harbor Freight to get the tarps, duct tape and rope. With my spending limit in mind, I got as much as I could. When talking to the manager about our purpose, and when I let him know I was a pastor of a local church he gave us a 20 percent discount. The total tab came to a little over $280 with the discount.
Lastly, we went to the Big Lots distribution center that has a retail store connected. Knowing that they would have a huge supply in inventory, I spoke with a clerk there about getting a big purchase of towels and such. They brought out a big box which had every kind of towel, hand cloth and wash cloth in bulk packages. I asked the price, got a quote and told him what I wanted. He came back, rang up the transaction and also gave me a 20 percent discount because we were a non-profit corporation making the purchase. The total bill was just over $200.
In all, we gathered over 2 tons of food and supplies for $860, with the value of the supplies well over $1000. It was a tiring day, as we did no finish our task until around 2 pm. But we rejoiced in what God had accomplished through us. We were thrilled and humbled to be even just a little part of helping our neighbors across the nation who are hurting.
May we have more opportunities to reach out and minister to others.