When disaster relief brings anything but relief
I remember talking to a Director of a Charity that works with the homeless in Toronto a few years ago. He told me how frustrating it is when local churches, schools and other groups just hop on a bus, head downtown and start handing out sleeping bags, food and toiletries (toothbrushes, deodorant etc) to people on the streets of Toronto. He told me that there are some days when people come into their shelter to get meals or to sleep in the evening and everyone seems to be carrying 2-3 sleeping bags, multiple bagged lunches and a backpack of toothbrushes etc. He said he wished local churches would actually call up local shelters and ask them what they really needed. I have never forgot that statement. His point was these organizations are already on the ground in these areas and they know better what things the people they are serving year round actually need.
Thinking of the Fort McMurray fire last week I was talking to a pastor and he said his church was doing a clothing drive for the people of Fort McMurray. I asked if that is what relief organizations, or the Mayor of Fort Mac or even the people who are displaced are asking for? He paused and said “I have no idea.”
I think that there needs to be some intentionality behind the desire to help. I am not saying we don’t help. Just saying we need to think a little before we assume what other people might need.
This article is a decent conversation on this topic. Love to hear your thoughts.
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