When the recent Hurricanes hit Puerto Rico, both Healing Hands International and Churches of Christ Disaster Relief were compelled to respond. Both organizations have experience in different areas of disaster relief but had never partnered together on a large scale relief effort. Mike Lewis, Executive Director at Churches of Christ Disaster Relief, says, “This is one of those ‘God things’ that happen in our lives. I feel like it is no coincidence that our headquarters are a mile away and that we have a good working relationship with each other. All we had to do was make it happen.” So we made it happen! Our partnership pairs HHI’s shipping expertise and Disaster Relief’s expertise in providing relief in a first world context.
Disaster Relief volunteers packed and packaged 300 family food boxes, 144 hygiene boxes, 36 infant care kits, cases of bottled water, wheelbarrows, cleaning supplies, new clothes and shoes, fans, and bedding. Healing Hands provided flashlights, batteries, tarps, water filters, work gloves, and other items. These items are vital as our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters begin to rebuild after such enormous devastation.
Historically, Disaster Relief has exclusively delivered disaster relief supplies via trucks to the continental United States. Lewis explains, “Our question has always been: What do we do when a disaster strikes an island?” Lewis explained that when an island has needed help in times past, they’ve sent funds rather than supplies simply because they don’t do shipping. That’s where Healing Hands comes in. We are able to provide the shipping expertise for the container of relief supplies. Joseph Smith, Director of Operations at HHI says he’s “thrilled that we’re working together as two organizations that have a lot of expertise to offer.”
The relief supplies are being sent to the Iglesia de Cristo at Bayamon. Some of our partners, Dwayne Shappley and Jose Juan Alamo, will facilitate the distribution once the shipment arrives.