Yesterday, while walking through Midway Airport in Chicago, I received a phone call from Mark Carrara, pastor of the Highpoint Community Church in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Several weeks ago, Highpoint launched a campaign to fill a 40-foot container with clothes, blankets and personal hygiene items for the people displaced by the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Mark’s an interesting guy. Trained as an engineer, Mark holds an M.S. in aeronautical engineering and an MBA. He is wired to be strategic. Even though Mark feels deeply, he is not prone to work out of his emotions, and yet when Mark learned of the crisis in Ukraine, he was one of the first leaders to respond.
His church took a special offering to fill a truck with humanitarian goods, and when I told him about Ukraine Survival, SUN’s national campaign to ship emergency supplies to Ukraine, Mark decided to launch his own effort in Port Saint Lucie. He plans to recruit faith communities and civic organizations to the cause. So, I wasn’t surprised when Mark called. I was surprised by what he reported.
“I’m going to need a container right away,” Mark told me. “We have collected enough bags to fill a 60-foot unit and have just placed a storage pod on the church property.”
“We haven’t even taken this out to the community yet,” Mark reported.
Something similar happened in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where Living Waters Church has collected tens of thousands of dollars in medical supplies. A local congregation in Merritt Island, Florida, has amassed more bags of clothes than the number of people in their church. Some listeners to the church’s radio broadcast have driven up to two hours to join the cause.
Most people have never heard of small cities like Port Saint Lucie, Meadville and Merritt Island, but the people there have discovered how to save Ukraine — one person at a time.
When you see the statistics about the humanitarian crisis, it is tempting to throw up your hands in despair. More than a million people have been displaced by the conflict; 1.7 million children need physical or psychological care.
None of these three communities will save everyone threatened by hunger, sickness and disease, but each container will carry enough goods to give hundreds of people a chance for survival. If we combine their response with other churches, synagogues and civic organizations across the United States, we will save many more.