The Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ, has received over $48,000 in donations to aid in tornado relief for the western Massachusetts residents that were hard hit by the June 1st tornadoes.
"There has been an amazing outpouring of generosity. Both the speed and the extent to which congregations responded is very impressive. This is the people of the Conference, as the Body of Christ, at their best," said Andy Gustafson, Associate Conference Minister for Stewardship.
The donations have come from churches in the Conference and individuals. Much of it was received at a special collection at the 212th Annual Meeting on Saturday, June 18. Conference Minister & President Jim Antal had called on churches to take up special collections for victims of the storm prior to the gathering. Many churches also brought cards and posters offering support, and those are being distributed in the affected communities.
Gustafson said churches can continue to take collections or hold fundraisers to contribute to the fund. The Conference will work with MACUCC congregations in those areas to determine where the money is most needed and distribute it accordingly. Checks marked tornado relief can be sent to MACUCC, 1 Badger Road, Framingham, MA 01702. Donations can also be made online.
"There will be holes in the response from FEMA and other disaster relief organizations, and that's where the church can step in," Gustafson said.
Churches can also assemble and donate emergency clean-up buckets for Church World Service, which distributes them in communities in need. Supplies of the buckets have been depleted by the flooding and tornadoes across the U.S. this spring.
Buckets can be dropped of at the Massachusetts Conference UCC office at 1 Badger Road in Framingham or at Christ Congregational UCC in Brockton. They must be received by August 5th for delivery to Church World Service. Instructions are available for download here.
Finally, churches looking to send volunteers to the affected communities can do so by contacting the First Congregational Church of Brimfield at 413-245-7162 or 413-245-7253, or the First Church of Monson at 413-238-1782. Both churches are in need of volunteers to serve meals (particularly weekdays), do clean-up work and more.
Visit the Conference's main tornado relief page here: http://macucc.org/tornadoes