The Buckner International family nationwide didn’t wait for Hurricane Harvey to make landfall to jump into action.
Buckner President and CEO Albert Reyes issued a call for prayer for the children, families and seniors the ministry serves in Southeast Texas as the storm approached the Texas coast, and churches, groups and individuals began asking God for protection.
While the storm was hovering over the region, The Church of Eleven22 in Jacksonville, Fla. was collecting supplies. As soon as the church felt it could get the supplies into Houston, church members drove 15 hours straight to deliver three truckloads of items and return home to prepare for Hurricane Irma as it approached their home state.
“This is an incredible example of what it means for the church to be the presence of Christ,” said Buckner Development Officer Adam McKinney. “For a church to show this level of compassion and care from that distance is a testimony to all of us and an incredible blessing to our families.”
Once the storm dissipated, volunteers were serving through Buckner ministries, particularly the Buckner Family Hope Center at Houston/Aldine. Neighborhoods around the Family Hope Center flooded significantly, leaving families with little.
The first day, the Family Hope Center served nearly 1,700 people in 385 families affected by the storm. As a well-known source of help and hope in the community, families continued coming to the Family Hope Center for the next week. About 100 volunteers helped sort and distribute donations at the center.
Groups and individuals also helped clean out debris and help with needed demolition in homes of Buckner families. The assistance helped families move toward rebuilding.
“It’s been some very dark times,” said Shawna Roy, director of the Buckner Family Hope Center at Houston/Aldine. “People are lost and don’t know where to turn. I’m so glad we’re here to shine hope in this situation. We’re here to let people know we’re here for you today and throughout this journey of recovery.”
For families who are struggling after the storm, the volunteers were a breath of fresh air.
“That helped us a lot,” Miriam Aguilar said. “They had a lot of people come over. They even brought us lunch because they know we’re working 11-12 hours a day.”
Leaders of Buckner and South Main Baptist Church in Houston jointly agreed to distribute locally the roughly 10,000 pairs of shoes the congregation collected for Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls®, knowing many people’s footwear was ruined by the flooding. Shoes for Orphan Souls also donated another 1,500 pairs of shoes collected through its Dallas-Fort Worth shoe drive to help victims of the storm.
Friends and supporters of Buckner donated money and supplies to the relief effort, including cleaning supplies and hygiene kits as well as more than $30,000. Additionally, Parkway Place residents raised about $17,000 for employees affected by the storm.
“The Buckner family is once again showing how incredible it is,” Reyes said. “Thank you for giving so generously to minister to those who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey. Your gifts will continue to bless families for weeks to come.”