By Analiz González
(LUFKIN, Texas) — Lufkin’s First Baptist Church housed four Buckner foster families who evacuated from Beaumont during Hurricane Gustav Aug. 31-Sept. 2, with church volunteer working “around the clock” to provide care.
“We have an agreement with Buckner, that whoever Buckner needs to evacuate out of Beaumont, they come here,” said Andy Pittman, senior pastor of First Church. “They get first shot at our facilities. Our church loves Buckner and we are going to continue to make our facilities available to folks in Beaumont and the Texas coast for future evacuations.”
He added that First Church did not sign up as a Red Cross shelter because if they had, their facilities would have been filled before Buckner “got a shot.” But once Buckner families were accommodated, the church took in 49 people from the Red Cross.
Meals for Buckner families were prepared by Pine Crest Methodist Retirement Home, who has been using FBC facilities to cook for their own residents while their kitchen undergoes repairs, he explained. Meanwhile, they were also cooking for a number of evacuees from a retirement home in Galveston.
“We had to all get real creative,” Pittman said, adding that the church provided a good number of volunteers working around the clock.
“The Buckner people were great,” he said. “They were true families. They came as family units, they related to each other as families and they took care of each other.”
Buckner International President Kenneth Hall praised the church’s efforts to care for the foster families. “Lufkin's First Baptist is a group of Christian believers who act like a group of believers. When we’ve asked for help previously and when we asked for help this time, their answer has always been ‘We’re ready.’ We’ve been overwhelmed time and time again by their spirit of generosity.”
FBC also has provided shelter for Buckner evacuees during the Hurricane Rita evacuation and they provided office space for Buckner Family Place when they first opened in Lufkin. The church members have also participated in a number of summer mission trips to Ethiopia.
During this evacuation, children living in residential care at Buckner Children’s Village were evacuated to Camp Buckner in Burnet, Texas. Forty children and a number of staff and their families caravanned to the camp in vans and personal vehicles.
Greg Eubanks, director/team leader in Southeast Texas, said that West Lake Hills Presbyterian Church was at Camp Buckner when the children were evacuated there.
“They were so willing to share the camp with us,” he said. “We ate together at most meals and they were very nice to our kids and our kids were great with them as well. They took all their leftover bottled water and snacks and bagged them up and gave them to our kids.”
He added that they were very blessed to be spared of any damage at their campus in Beaumont.
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