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Katrina Update

During the week of December 9-16, Walter Mucha (pronounced Moo-ha), a committed Episcopalian from Brookline Village, and I sent a full 18-wheeler trailer load of gently used appliances, furniture and household goods to a warehouse operated by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Interfaith Disaster Task Force (IDTF) warehouse in Biloxi (MS). With this shipment, we have now delivered 45 tons of goods to IDTF over the past 18 months.

IDTF represents a collaboration of some 150 Protestant churches along the Mississippi Gulf Coast that operates a 40,000 square foot warehouse for the benefit of the needy. Anyone who is receiving aid through various church and relief groups is given a case number which grants the holder unfettered access to the warehouse.

Our major challenge has been obtaining warehouse space in the greater Boston area (we have still not been successful) and securing transportation. Gentle Giant Movers has been very accommodative, and we thought that the last shipment was going to be pro bono. They tied up a trailer for us to load, got busy, had to rent a replacement trailer, and decided to pass the costs on to us. A generous benefactor from St. Mary’s bailed us out.

The Massachusetts Diocese has installed in Biloxi an ombudsman, The Reverend Jane Bearden, who oversees relations between the north and south dioceses. She also serves as an Associate Priest at The Church of the Holy Redeemer in Biloxi, whose church building was totally destroyed by Katrina.

On December 18, Reverend Bearden sent the following email:

“I have just returned from the IDTF warehouse. Last Thursday they unloaded the truck from Massachusetts. Tommy Munro funded a day’s pay for our two sextons to help with the unloading. Then on Friday the warehouse closed for inventory. It took the entire IDTF staff all day to catalog everything. Then this morning I took five families to pick out “stuff.” Dryers, washers, dining room tables, chairs, and sofas were flying out the door. We giggled like kids in a candy store. The timing could not have been better as FEMA is taking the trailers this month leaving people with the task of moving into partially completed homes, expensive apartments, and sometimes on the street. With Christmas just around the corner and so many in need, this was a wonderful gift. Later I will post some pictures to the blog and write a story about the people and what your work has meant to them but for now please know that we are amazed at the generosity of the people of Massachusetts and so very grateful to you, Tim, for all of your determination and tenacity to see this project through. I left the warehouse with all five families loading pick-up trucks.

“When I started my car and turned on the radio the music playing was “Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King.” It is a glorious morning. I could barely see the road for the tears that won’t seem to stop today. Christmas may be next week, but Christ’s Light is burning brightly in Biloxi now.”

The following day, Reverend Bearden wrote:

“I sent two more families today. Of course those are just my referrals. There are many more. On Monday we arrived at the warehouse at 8:45 a.m. thinking we would be the first and have first choice but no…. Stephen [the warehouse manager] told me that when he arrived at 6:00 a.m. the pick-ups had already lined up. Word was out that Massachusetts had sent a truck. Yes, it is indeed an indication of the need. The stories continue to pile up and the hardship goes on. But hope is here, too. I am reading a portion of a book by Madeline L’Engle called “The Glorious Impossible” on Christmas Eve at the children’s service. It is a reminder that—with God—all things are possible.”

We plan to ramp up our program in the spring and have some exciting prospects for expanding its scope. Your continued support is very important.

– Tim Green

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