Posted on : Thursday October 12, 2017

First Baptist Church of Laurel, Md., partnered with the city of Laurel to collect hygiene donations for people affected by the recent hurricanes.

By Sharon Mager

LAUREL, Md.—First Baptist Church of Laurel partnered with the city of Laurel to host a drive on Oct 7, to collect money and hygiene kit supplies to help hurricane victims in Texas and Florida. Eight-five volunteers, 61 from the church and 23 from the City of Laurel, and a volunteer from Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital worked together, greeting and directing folks as they drove up, collecting cash donations, unloading their donations of supplies, and working like an assembly line to put together hygiene kits.

“I was impressed at how many people were there to help and how organized it was,” said Niki Taylor, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware ministry associate for evangelism/disaster relief. “They even had it organized with an afternoon and morning shift,” she said, adding she was also surprised at the diversity of ages. There were little children up to seniors lending a helping hand.

Mario Diedonnée, FBC Laurel Ready Church Ministry director, who oversaw the event, said he was very pleased that many from the church’s Hispanic congregation volunteered.

“They helped tremendously,” Dieudonné said. “It was incredible how organized and dedicated  the workers were. And the enthusiasm was way high. It was impressive.”

He added, “At one point, we were short of towels and a lady drove up and she brought 20 towels. People were so excited. A cheer went up.”

He also was pleased with how the volunteers from the city worked with the church.

“It was seamless. The people from the city of Laurel worked side by side with us as if we had been working together forever,” Dieudonné said.

Some people brought individual items, such as boxes of toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, soap, washcloths, and other similar items. The group assembling the kits followed posted directions and filled two-gallon zip-lock bags with the supplies.

Money collected will be sent to the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware to supply recovery buckets that include cleaning supplies, masks, and gloves. Some folks designated money to help care for pets, and others brought dog and cat food. Those donations will be sent to Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital, Laurel.

Dieudonné said they were well prepared—enough to handle up to 10 times the number of items they received. Donations, he conceded, were light, though the event was very heavily publicized. In addition to news outlets, radio stations, and flyers advertising, the City of Laurel had an electric sign advertising and the local fire company put the event on their marquis.

He attributes the lack of participation to “donation fatigue.” Many people have been collecting for the multiple disasters.

“Even with the lower than expected number of donors, we received a respectable amount of donations. The drive was a success overall, because it prompted the volunteers to join the Ready Church Ministry and plan to receive training in evangelism and disaster relief, Dieudonné said. The volunteers now want to obtain their gold hats and badges, he said.

Dieudonné said the “Ready Church” ministry is to help people prepare for a natural disaster. “Many have no idea of how to be proactive in preparing for a disaster. You can’t help rescue your neighbor if you are in need of rescuing yourself or can’t care for yourself,” he said.