Irma relief: Church sends love to South


As Hurricane Irma left death and destruction in the Caribbean and set sights on Florida, one Amherst church stepped up to help.

Family Fellowship members turned out Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to collect essentials for the storm’s victims.

They loaded feminine products, bleach, diapers, batteries, flashlights, hand sanitizer, and underwear into a 53-foot semi semi trailer on Cooper Foster Park Road — a total of 16 pallets of supplies.

Most important, perhaps, were 1,200 bottles of water.

People can go three weeks without food but only three days without water, said pastor Josh Smith.

Monday, he and wife Sumer — who grew up in the Carolinas and weathered a couple of hurricanes firsthand — learned the Lorain Port Authority had collected another 32 pallets of supplies.

They called in another semi from TFC Transportation of Columbia Station, which is owned by a church member.

Both trucks are bound for Atlanta, Ga. Where they’ll eventually end up in Florida was unknown Monday but Smith said he believes the trucks will likely unload at church in the Fort Meyers or Naples.

The Foursquare denomination has a disaster relief arm that’s helping to coordinate deliveries from South Carolina to Florida.

Smith said the message for those bearing the brunt of the storm is simple: “The devastation of the storm is even felt by those way up in northern Ohio, and we’re not just going to watch it happen — we’re going to respond to let you know we’re for you and with you.”

The Smiths have been ministering since 2001 and have grown to know many people in Florida, including church members who have moved there. Several Family Fellowship members have winter homes there; all have made it through the storm intact.

Yet they said providing aid to hurricane victims isn’t a “church thing.” Rather, it’s about meeting the basic needs of people who have endured a terrifying and costly ordeal.

To help, search for #sendingirmarelief at www.gofundme.com, or make a check out to Family Fellowship, 780 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Amherst, OH 44001 with “Irma relief” in the memo line.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

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Jen Anderson of Amherst, pastor Josh Smith of Amherst, and Bob Christensen of Lorain gather supplies for the Hurricane Irma relief effort.
http://www.theamherstnewstimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/09/web1_IMG_0531.jpgJen Anderson of Amherst, pastor Josh Smith of Amherst, and Bob Christensen of Lorain gather supplies for the Hurricane Irma relief effort.

Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Amherst News-Times

Church members take a breather after loading roughly 1,200 water bottles into trucks heading south.
http://www.theamherstnewstimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/09/web1_IMG_0537.jpgChurch members take a breather after loading roughly 1,200 water bottles into trucks heading south.

Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Amherst News-Times

Elizabeth Anderson, Tom Anderson, and Hayden Coughlin, all of Amherst, pitch in to collect goods for people whose lives have been thrust into chaos.
http://www.theamherstnewstimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2017/09/web1_IMG_0539.jpgElizabeth Anderson, Tom Anderson, and Hayden Coughlin, all of Amherst, pitch in to collect goods for people whose lives have been thrust into chaos.

Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Amherst News-Times

By Jason Hawk

jhawk@aimmediamidwest.com