From Dec. 13-15, WELS volunteers distributed thousands of donations to those affected by Superstorm Sandy. The donations were sent by WELS members from across the United States and Canada and primarily consisted of blankets, quilts, and winter outerwear. The effort, led by WELS Christian Aid and Relief, was centered at Sure Foundation, Queens, N.Y.

“Every day was like Christmas at Sure Foundation,” says Ms. Pat Schlosser, a volunteer who helped coordinate the donations as they arrived. “We opened box after box of wonderful things. I was amazed at all the things we received.”

Mr. Mark Vance, director of operations for Christian Aid and Relief, coordinated delivery of the donations to multiple distribution points. On Thursday, Vance and two other volunteers took items to the Rockaways and to Red Hook, communities around New York City that are continuing to struggle with hardships following Superstorm Sandy. Some residents of these areas are still without power or heat.

In Red Hook, the volunteers from Christian Aid and Relief were able to distribute items personally to those in need, sometimes having the opportunity to share their faith along with the donations. One volunteer shares how a little girl that she talked with described how her family is sleeping together on the living room floor for warmth, wearing hats and mittens, huddled together.

Vance also delivered donations to Immanuel, Long Valley, and Our Savior’s, East Brunswick, both in New Jersey, for non-member families who are friends of the congregations. In addition, items were shared with Sure Foundation’s neighbors along with invitations to the congregation’s Christmas program. When possible, all donated items included information on the area churches for recipients who are seeking spiritual help.

To date Christian Aid and Relief has distributed more than $33,000 for Superstorm Sandy relief. Vance projects that there will be ongoing expenditures through spring 2013.

Winter wear and blanket donations to Sure Foundation have been so generous the church is filled to capacity. Sure Foundation asks that any further donations be redirected to your local communities.

Christian Aid and Relief also recently approved a $10,000 grant to Nigeria for flood relief. The grant is being distributed through one of WELS’ sister church bodies in Nigeria, All Saints Lutheran Church.

Torrential rains from July through October flooded homes, ruined food stores, and washed away newly planted crops in the region of northern Cross River State and much of Benue State, Nigeria. Hunger has set in, and those in rural areas do not have easy access to government and humanitarian aid. Therefore, All Saints will use this grant from Christian Aid and Relief to provide aid to 135 families in 6 villages who are in dire need of food and other necessities.

Rev. Douglas Weiser, WELS World Missions’ liaison to  Nigeria, reports that the people and leaders of All Saints Lutheran Church are grateful for this gift since it enables them to provide a measure of relief to both members and non-members who are suffering as a result of the rains and floods.