The congregation of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, Mahoning Township, is responding to the needs of the people of Long Island, New York, who are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
Speaking for the support effort is the Rev. Christopher DeForest, who is pleased that his congregation wants to reach out to help the Long Island community.
"We've seen our neighbors in Tamaqua and Lehighton with their efforts and we realize there is still a lot of will to do something," said the pastor. "We have members of our congregation who have connections and family members in Long Island."
The focus of the connection is the Island Harvest Food Bank, which helps people who are in dire straits with food and water on a daily basis, not just during emergencies. They are assisting us with this effort, said the pastor.
"We have also heard reports about the volunteers groups who have gone to the area to help and are struggling as well," he added. "They are part of the support effort who needs our help."
The Rev. DeForest said that Island Harvest Food Bank has come up with a specific list of items which are needed.
"We have a focal point to support those who are still recovering and to help those who are doing the relief work with the food and water they need to do the work," he added.
By Sunday afternoon, he hopes to have the items packed up and ready for delivery.
"We have offers of a mini van and full bed trucks," he said. "We are spreading the word."
The Rev. DeForest said that the support effort is a continuation of what churches and the community have been doing these past several weeks to help this devastated area.
"We want to be known as more than a pretty place to worship," said the Rev. DeForest.
He said that this "spontaneous" effort comes from the congregations' desire to help.
"We do a lot of work with other area churches," he said. "But this effort we see as a "parish" effort to help those in need."
He added, "Globally we help with "Trees for Troops," and internationally we help with "Good Gifts," which is a project to provide farm animals to other countries."
"While there is a lot of hype for Black Friday shopping, and Cyber Monday sales, this is Giving Tuesday," he said. "Giving Tuesday is a way to focus on giving back,"
"We hope to have this wrapped up by Sunday," he said. "Our desire is to keep focused and try to be done by Sunday so as to not trail this out because people need this stuff."
The church is open evenings for donation. Items may be dropped off at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mahoning, 826 Mahoning Drive West, Lehighton, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 28; and Thursday, Nov. 29; 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Dec. 1; and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 2.
For additional information, call (570) 386-9960.
"We thought we'd have evening hours so that people could do their shopping and then swing around and drop things off," he said.
Items being sought for Hurricane Sandy Relief are: bottled water, canned fruits and vegetables, vitamin water, canned tuna, healthy snack bars, canned chili, boxed crackers, cleaning products and peanut butter. No clothing please.