It seems inadequate to simply say those words, but we are eternally grateful to all of our volunteers and partners and donors who served with us during the latter half of 2017. The hurricane season of 2017 was one we will never forget, as Hurricane Harvey (Texas), Hurricane Irma (Florida) and Hurricane Maria (Puerto Rico) made landfall, and made history, causing great devastation, and impacting so many lives in our nation and beyond our borders. We could not have responded as we did to each hurricane without your prayers, your financial support, donation drives and physical labor. We were blessed with an amazing group of volunteers who came to Hearts With Hands warehouse in Swannanoa NC, working tirelessly, receiving donations by phone or online, scheduling pick-ups and deliveries, sorting donated items, packing boxes, unloading trucks and trailers, and more. Because of their hard work, there was a steady stream of supplies shipping out from the warehouse in tractor trailer loads of bottled waters, Hygiene Kits for men/women/children, baby supplies, and cleaning supplies packaged in 5-gallon buckets. Every shipment included our food boxes, packaged with love, and filled with non-perishable food items, eating utensils, and a printed presentation of the Gospel. These are the Hearts With Hands “Boxes of Hope.” While our volunteers were busy at the warehouse, we had partners at local churches in each location where the hurricanes hit, receiving our tractor trailer loads, and distributing those supplies to the victims. Here are some details of our efforts related to each hurricane:
August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a category four storm between Corpus Christi and Rockport, Texas. Prior to landfall, our Director (Greg Lentz) began to reach out to Pastors of churches in the path of the storm, to make arrangements and establish distribution sites where the needs were great. The first HWH distribution site was at the People’s Baptist Church (Stan Mitchell, Pastor) in Corpus Christi, TX. Our Field Director (Don Jennings) was there to manage the site, and receive the first HWH tractor trailer load, and as soon as the storm passed, the site was running, and volunteers were there daily, to distribute the relief supplies. Several work crews were dispatched to the Roloff Homes in Corpus Christi, to aid in their cleanup efforts, saving them over $50,000 of estimated expenses. Massive flooding and devastation had also occurred in Houston TX, and two other HWH distribution sites were set up at Christchurch Baptist Fellowship (Dr. Johnny Pope, Pastor) and at Second Baptist Church (Pastor Ed Young). In a matter of days, ten tractor trailer loads of relief supplies were loaded at the HWH warehouse in North Carolina and sent to each of these distribution sites in Texas.
September 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in Southern Florida around Marco Island and Naples, as a category four storm. While our Field Director (Jennings) was still assisting those devastated by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Our Director (Lentz), a volunteer licensed truck driver, and a volunteer businessman loaded a tractor trailer, pickup truck with trailer, and a box truck full of supplies and headed to Naples, FL to establish a distribution site at First Baptist Church (Dr. Hayes Wicker, Pastor). The large facility on campus of FBC Naples served as a wonderful location for the site, and we saw cars lined up for hours. With the help of several hundred volunteers from the area, the relief efforts continued, and we were able to distribute relief supplies to thousands of victims.Two other HWH distribution sites operated from Seagate Baptist Church (Glen Wiggins, Pastor) in Naples, FL and at First Baptist Church (Timothy Pigg, Pastor) in Immokalee, FL. Over the next three weeks, fourteen tractor trailer loads of relief supplies were loaded at the HWH warehouse in North Carolina and sent to each of these distribution sites in Florida.
September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico. At the time, our Director (Lentz) and Field Director (Jennings) were at distribution sites in Texas and Florida, continuing relief efforts, but we immediately began to pray and make preparations to send supplies to those affected by yet another storm. The need in Puerto Rico was so great, as the storm destroyed the power grid and left the entire island without power. HWH partnered with the local National Guard unit, Camp Santiago in Salinas, to receive one of our tractor trailers, loaded with food, water, hygiene kits, and our HWH “Boxes of Hope”. Another load was shipped by container to San Juan, where several churches had volunteers to help receive and distribute the relief supplies.
In December, Hearts With Hands was on site at a High School in Salisbury, NC for a Christmas event. A hot meal was provided, and served to over 400 people. The “Box of Hope” were given to every family in attendance, providing additional meals during winter break. Christmas toys were given to the children in attendance. bicycles, dolls, toy cars and many more items were donated through a partnership with current NFL player, Javon Hargrave of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who was a graduate of the high school. Throughout the year we continue to help homeless students in Western NC by distributing our HWH “Boxes of Hope.”
RISE UP - 1,000 Partners Needed
The new headquarters for HWH allows us to have over 150 volunteers working at once. Having this warehouse and office facility has allowed us to do more than we have been able to do in many years. Would you consider partnering with us to reach our goal? By 2021, we would like to fully purchase the beautiful 40 acre campus and 200,000 square foot facility at 850 Warren Wilson Road in Swannanoa, NC. In order to reach this goal, we need 1,000 individuals, families, businesses or churches to commit to giving $1,000 per year, for five years. We are thankful for every dollar given! You can donate in many ways. For more information, visit our website www.HeartsWithHands.org We look forward to 2018 with readiness and great anticipation! Thank You for your support, and God Bless You.
As a disaster relief ministry, we’ll never know the extent of our reach, and it is impossible to track in numbers, but we do know God is honored through every effort, and He is providing for those in need. So we say “Thank you” to everyone who took part, said a prayer, donated money or food, water, cleaning supplies, baby items, clothing, etc. in 2017 and we ask that you continue your support in the years ahead. Our team could not have rapidly responded to Harvey, Irma, and Maria on our own efforts. It took the open hands and willing hearts of hundreds of volunteers! We need the support of individuals, schools, churches, and businesses to continue. We appreciate the partnership we have with businesses such as IPG and Ingles Markets. If you are a business owner, contact us to find out how you can also partner with us! Will you get involved in the work of Hearts With Hands in 2018? You can Text HeartsWithHands to 97000 to receive the latest news and be notified about opportunities to serve. In His Service, Dr.Greg Lentz