United Church Homes and Services Practices Love of Neighbor in Response to Hurricane Florence

Steve Paterson, compliance officer for United Church Homes and Services, donated the first full bucket to United Church Homes and Services emergency clean-up bucket drive to help survivors of Hurricane Florence.

When partners need help, United Church Homes and Services responds. In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, the United Church of Christ’s regional Southern Conference and its Disaster Ministries sent out an all-church call for 500 Emergency Clean-up Buckets. The Newton, N.C., CHHSM member quickly organized efforts within its communities.

“United Church Homes and Services is proud to be able to partner with the Disaster Relief Ministry of the Southern Conference of the UCC to assist achieving their goal,” says Lee Syria, UCHS’ president and CEO. “Many individuals have suffered devastating loss, and we need to help with recovery efforts of our neighbors.”

Indeed, the project is seen as part of the overall UCC effort to practice Love of Neighbor, and response has been swift and enthusiastic. “We announced the Bucket Challenge on Monday morning, and Tuesday morning, UCHS had our first full bucket, donated by Steve Paterson, our compliance officer,” says Joy Cline, chief marketing officer. “Each of our communities are excited about the challenge, and they are mostly being championed by Spiritual Life and Enrichment teams.”

Each bucket costs $75. Contents include scouring pads, sponges, scrub brushes, reusable cleaning towels, liquid laundry detergence, liquid disinfectant dish soap, concentrated household cleaner, clothespins, clotheslines, dust masks, waterproof dishwashing gloves, work gloves, 30-45-gallon trash bags, and non-aerosol insect repellent.

UCHS communities are involving staff and residents in the collection, says Cline, as well as getting the word out to their local communities so that anyone interested can drop off products or cash contributions for the buckets.

“My goal is that UCHS will do about 50 buckets,” Cline says. UCHS communities will drop off all supplies at the home office by Oct. 3. Cline will assess the supplies, purchase what’s needed to complete the buckets, and organize the assembly of the buckets. Staff and residents will participate in the assembly line.

UCC partner Church World Service has organized six drop-off points, or “depots,” for the assembled buckets, including Mount Hope UCC in Whitsett, N.C., United Church of Chapel Hill (N.C.), Hampton (Va.) Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), plus three Rise Against Hunger locations in the UCC Southern Conference. The completed buckets will be delivered between Oct. 7 and 12.

One of the first UCHS communities to sound the call for supplies was Abernethy Laurels, also in Newton, N.C. “Our neighbors to the east are in the midst of clean-up following the devastating floods by Hurricane Florence. We continue to send prayers, but our hearts want to do more,” it posted on Facebook in its call for donations.

Participation in the Clean-Up Bucket challenge is just one more example of the covenantal partnership UCHS shares with the rest of the United Church of Christ. As a partner of the UCC Southern Conference and its Disaster Ministries, UCHS “has offered our support where needed,” says Cline. “Many of us at UCHS have family and friends that are suffering from so many losses, and many are still not back in their homes … UCHS sees this as a community outreach and Love of Neighbor. Our residents and staff are always eager to give a hand up.”

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