WASHINGTON (CNS) — As victims continue to recover from Hurricane Sandy, several dioceses and Catholic charities are still asking for support for the affected areas.
Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Relief Services are the two main charities dioceses were using to distribute these donations. Catholic Charities is working mainly in New York and New Jersey, while CRS is mostly in the Caribbean.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which has branches throughout the country, also has been asking for continued support for hurricane victims.
Among the dioceses that had collected donations for at least one of these charities were the Archdiocese of Miami and the Dioceses of Albany, N.Y., Youngstown, Ohio, and Scranton, Pa.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia conducted a second collection for Sandy victims the weekend of Nov. 24-25.
With the memory of Hurricane Rita that hit the region hard in 2005, the Diocese of Lake Charles, La., took a second collection at Masses Nov. 24-25 as well.
“All of us here can relate to those who are recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy with its torrential rains and winds,” said a statement from Father Wayne LeBleu, secretary for the diocese’s Ministry of Pastoral Services. “We also remember the benefits of those who assisted us in our time of need and we would like to offer our prayerful support and gifts to assist those in need at this time.”
Earlier in November, second collections to fund relief for hurricane victims were conducted by the Archdiocese of Boston and the Dioceses of Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pa., Orlando and Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., and Raleigh, N.C.
A planeload of nonperishable food items — about 8,500 pounds — left Miami Nov. 19 for the hard-hit Archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba to help the Catholic Church there feed people affected by the ravages of Sandy.
“This is an initial response to the devastation wrought by the hurricane in Cuba,” said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami at a news conference at Miami International Airport an hour before the flight took off. “This will allow the church in Cuba to minister to the people that were most severely affected by the storm.”
The food — cans of tuna, Vienna sausages, Parmalat milk, rice, beans and other nonperishable staples — was collected by various groups in south Florida, including the Friends of Caritas Cuba; the LaSallistas, alumni of schools run by the De LaSalle Brothers in Cuba; the Municipios de Santiago en el Exilio, an exile group of former residents of the various towns in the province of Santiago de Cuba; and the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, who have convents throughout the island.
The archdiocese also took up a collection over two weekends in November at all of its parishes to raise funds to aid those hit by Sandy in Cuba, Haiti up the East Coast.
“We purchased the remaining food products so we could have the plane take off at capacity,” Archbishop Wenski said.
Miami Air Cargo loaned the airplane and the pilots donated their time, he noted. Santiago Archbishop Dionisio Garcia Ibanez and representatives of Caritas Cuba were among those who received the shipment in Santiago.
Within the Archdiocese of Santiago, 100,000 dwellings were destroyed, along with 13 church buildings.
The Knights of Columbus tallied more than $500,000 in donations for Sandy’s victims. The amount was announced Nov. 15 by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson in Dallas at an annual meeting of Texas state leaders.
In addition to more than $450,000 being distributed by the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut with the help of local Knights in the affected area, the organization also sent two truckloads of supplies, one to New York and one to New Jersey.
The Archdiocese of New York is distributing nearly $1 million raised through parish collections to those in the archdiocese hardest hit by Sandy. Catholic Charities’ Sandy Relief Fund will forward the money to pastors in hard-hit communities so that they can provide immediate help to about 1,000 families and individuals in need.
The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation donated money to Catholic Charities’ Sandy Relief Fund, to the parishes that were damaged by the storm, and to other agencies, while the Cardinal’s Appeal has dedicated $500,000 for relief efforts. A committee of pastors was to meet after Thanksgiving to begin to assess long-term needs.
St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, N.Y., donated about 2,500 early Thanksgiving dinners Nov. 17 to affected residents at Long Beach Regional Catholic School in Long Beach, one area in the Diocese of Rockville Centre hit badly by Sandy. Among those dining were needy residents, senior citizens and first responders. Nurses from the hospital’s community health department gave flu shots and blood pressure screenings at the dinner.
In the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., which encompasses the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, all 200 parishes throughout the diocese were collecting nonperishable food items and supplies for relief efforts, and also took up a second collection to assist those in distress.
In addition, through Catholic Charities USA, a shipment of 480 boxes of food — each box feeding a family of four for one week — is being delivered to diocesan distribution centers, along with cleaning supplies.
The Diocese of Metuchen, N.J., has established telephone and email help lines for those either needing help or wanting to give help at (732) 387-1222 (732) 387-1222 or email@example.com.
In addition to a central donation and distribution center, the diocese has set up a dozen parish-based satellite distribution centers. “All donated items are welcome,” said a message on the diocesan website. “Through its help line, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen is doing its best to match needs with available resources.”
Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Camden, N.J., shut down its disaster relief operations and has switched to disaster recovery mode. According to an announcement on the diocesan website, it “will soon be coordinating clean-up crews to assist those inside and outside of our diocese. We will also continue to make special deliveries of relief supplies to parishes and communities.”
The four-county Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., which took special collections at Masses the last three weekends of November, “will distribute all donations equally at the recommendation of the four regional bishops of the archdiocese to help fund parish-based initiatives in their own counties to aid people affected by the storm, in areas such as food pantries, warming/charging centers, local shelters and clothing distributions,” said a message on the archdiocesan website.”
The National Catholic Educational Association has set up a fund with Catholic Charities USA to help members of the Catholic educational community who were displaced or affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Karen Ristau, NCEA president, said students and teachers in Catholic schools and catechetical programs across the country have been asking how they can help. The NCEA decided the best approach would be to “align our efforts” with Catholic Charities agencies that “actively involved in restoration efforts.”
The Hurricane Sandy Catholic Education Fund has been established at Catholic Charities and all gifts to that fund will be used to restore Catholic educational activities,” Ristau said.
Gifts may be made by check or credit card only. Checks should be made payable to Catholic Charities USA and mailed to 2050 Ballenger Ave, Suite 400, Alexandria, VA 22314. Donors should note on the check that the gift is for the “2012 Hurricane Sandy Catholic Education Fund.”
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By Chelsea Weikart, Catholic News Service. Contributing to this story was Mark Pattison in Washington and Ana Rodriguez-Soto in Miami.
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Editor’s Note: The websites for Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are, respectively, www.catholiccharitiesusa.org, www.crs.org and www.svdpusa.org.