Help a parish in Indiana devastated by tornado – UPDATE

I had an UPDATE from Fr. Shaun Wittington of St. John’s Catholic Church, in Osgood, IN which was devastated by a recent storm.

Dear Friends in Christ,

Tonight has to be brief — today was the first day of carrying two cell phones.  Today brought some surprises and some myths that are developing.  First some things that are not true.  I have heard these things and want you to know the truth.
1.  My church buildings are still standing.  While the tornadoes hit close — about three miles away for the closest — none of my four churches are damaged.  If you want to send money to rebuild churches, please sent it, with instructions for that use to me or to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.  Deliveries can be received here, there are no disruptions of delivery service in Osgood.
2.  I am not in charge of recovery of Holton.  We may have had our name spread around — but we are a church in action.  We are not professionals or the Red Cross or FEMA.  Don’t think we are the only ones helping — please support people you feel can help.  MANY groups are working in all the affected areas.  While I have heard many complaints about the Red Cross, please know they were the first there.  (After the heroes of EMS, Fire, Police, etc.)
3.  There have been no reports of looting.  Our drivers have had contact with many people on the scene, including police officers, and none of them have report anything other than acts of selflessness and service.  The people of the heartland are good people.
4.  Holton is overwhelmed with stuff.  True for now, but that is not the only place we have been.  While others have been unable to get stuff in, God has guided our trucks and every delivery to date has been guided by grace to the a place that needed it.  Sometimes Holton, or Henryville, or Chelesia, or another town.  God is still guiding our efforts and even when we are given word by FEMA that a place doesn’t need stuff, we still find things like a women who cried when she got a bottle of bleach.
Now some more updates for tonight!
Please use the current list for things we need.  REMEMBER PLEASE NO CLOTHES, LARGE ITEMS, FRESH FOOD.  The current list is pasted below — its the same as yesterday, but added the following — gift cards to Lowe’s, Wal-mart, and CVS or Walgreen’s and BIBLES!  We have had an urgent request for a delivery tomorrow and intend to get that out by 2pm.
The funeral for Armando Hernandez is set for Friday at 11, with visitation 10:00 – 10:45 in the Church.  Fr. John Meyer is presiding.  (I don’t know Spanish yet!)  I need a Spanish Choir!   I have committed our funds to the entire cost of transportation — $5,500.  We have made the first payment of $2,000 today and I know of checks in the mail, so I have promised the second check by the first of next week.
Red Cross is now referring people to us and many people have promised large deliveries to the church by the end of the week . .  . so . . . . my committee is meeting in the morning to plan “Phase II: Longer term help.”  This will include deliveries that will become on demand as the needs come in.  That involves a continual presence of storage, organizing, delivery, over the coming weeks.  This will also include on demand labor.  Please be patient, we are trying to get things organized and volunteers and stuff in the place its needed, when it is needed.  I don’t want to overwhelm anyone when they have just lost everything.  Remember we are thinking long term recovery here.  Like I learned the first time I as involved in tornado recover as a Boy Scout ——- and so ——- A big shout out to the BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA!  Most phone calls from a single group!  As an Eagle Scout and current Scoutmaster of Troop 639, I will put you to work — be patient!
There are many stories I want to share with you, but its been a long day.  Our parish penance service is tomorrow — please pray that many will come to confession here and receive the grace of God’s mercy.  Someone asked me if we would reschedule Masses or other parish events because of the work that is going on.  NO — Mass and Confessions and Religious Education and the Penance Service will continue as scheduled because we need to pray and receive the Father’s love.  Please, if you have been unable to do anything else, offer a prayer for me and my parishes, that we will be people of true Charity, humility, and live in the love of God.
If I have not yet responded to an email or voicemail, please be patient.  This evening was moving our entire operation because of a scheduled water main replacement.  No water service here in the morning!
That’s it for now.  Off to have a nice evening beverage.
With Love,
Fr. Whittington
THE LIST updated 3/6/12
What we DON’T need:
—Clothing (but if you have already collected it, fine)
—Fresh food
—Large household items
–Books (including prayer books other than Bibles)

What we DO need:
—Cleaning supplies, especially bleach, trash bags, soap including laundry
—Cleaning tools: mops, buckets, new rags, towels, etc.
—Paper Towels, Toilet Paper
—Flash Lights & Batteries
—Chain saws
—Rakes, Shovels
—Work Gloves
—Latex Gloves

–Gift cards: Walgreens or CVS, Lowe’s, Wal-Mart.  Please be careful some chains are not in all areas of the country.

What we REALLY DO need:
—Baby stuff: diapers, formula, food, wipes
—Children’s underwear, socks
—Personal toiletries: toothpaste, tooth brushes, deo, shaving cream, etc.
—Feminine products
—Adult underwear, socks

How does it get there? We are unable to provide volunteers to do pick ups because they are sorting, organizing, and taking it into the needed places.  So, please drop off items THIS WEEK (today until Friday) from 9am until dark at:

St. John’s Catholic Church
331 S. Buckeye St.
Osgood, IN 47037

Can I give money? Yes, all money will be distributed locally through St. John’s Church directly to people in need.  If there is any remaining it will be given to Catholic Charities of Indiana.   Please mail or drop off at the Church.  Check made out to St. John’s Church with “Tornado” in the memo line.
Can I donate labor? Yes and no. Locally, we will continue to need help recieveing donations and getting them out.  If you are out of town NOT YET, but soon.  There is still a lot of basic services being provided and labor will be very important, but we are asking you to please stand by.  Perhaps you could send me an email and we will get you on the list to be contact?!
Who do I contact?
Fr. Whittington — cell:  317-750-0647 or
Church Office Number —  812-689-4244

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. anniemw says:

    Those of us in other parts of the country for whom it is not practical to send brooms and buckets and diapers, might consider sending gift cards. They could be for specific stores, or just generic. I would guess sending $25 or $50 increments might be more helpful than, say, one $100 card.

  2. mrsmontoya says:

    Thank you Father, a box with baby wipes and soap is in the mail.

  3. nykash says:

    I wonder if UPS/FedEx are making their normal routes… if so, Amazon would be a good source for donations, particularly baby-related items. Delivery is usually pretty quick (at least in my multi-state experience:-)

  4. 8latinfans says:

    I live about 20 minutes from Fr. Whittington, and know him personally. PLEASE, if you can, send checks. That way, Father can distribute the money as he sees fit. Right now, he is trying to raise enough money to have the body of a young Mexican who was killed when his trailer was swept way in the tornado sent back to his mother in Mexico for burial. Here is your chance to do one of the corporal works of mercy for Lent and help bury the dead. The Red Cross is also directing people to Father for help. As his e-mail says, they need basics like underwear and socks. Many of his parishioners are farmers and lost their outbuildings, silos, etc. Just my input since I am close to the situation. Anything that Father does not need, he is coordinating to be sent down to Henryville, IN, farther south. That town lost just about everything — all three schools (elementary, jr. high, and high school) and many, many homes. So any donation you send to Fr. Whittington will go to help someone in need.

  5. 8latinfans says:

    And to nykash:

    Yes, Fr. Whittington’s church is a bit removed from where the brunt of the tornado went through, so if anyone wants to send something to him via Amazon, it should get delivered.

  6. 8latinfans says:

    I just got an update from Fr. Whittington. In it, he said gift cards are fine. This is rural part of Indiana though, and of course some store chains are not national. Cards to places like Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, CVS, and Walgreen’s would be fine. He is just one of the places helping people and they are starting to switch from “crisis mode” to “long-term help” mode. They have already paid the first installment payment to have the young man’s body shipped back to Mexico. He promised to pay the rest by early next week. Thanks for helping!

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