Lending a helping hand

Published 10:31 am Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A local effort is underway on several fronts to aid the people of Haiti, victims of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12.

The death toll there is staggering…current estimates of 50,000 and that number could rise significantly over the coming days and weeks as search and rescue teams continue to sift through the rubble.

There are reports of 300,000 families living in the streets of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

Here in the Roanoke-Chowan area, there are several ways for local residents to help.

United Methodist churches in the area are collecting health kits, blankets, tarps and donations for Haiti. These supplies or donations can be dropped off at any United Methodist church.

Local residents may consider donating the following items for a health care kit (a $12 value):

1 hand towel (15″ x 25″ up to 17″ x 27” (no kitchen towels);

1 washcloth;

1 comb (large and sturdy, not pocket-sized);

1 nail file or fingernail clippers (no emery boards or toenail


1 bath-size bar of soap (3 oz. and up);

1 toothbrush (single brushes only in original wrapper; no child-size brushes); and

6 adhesive plastic strip sterile bandages.

Place all items inside a sealed one-gallon plastic bag.

All items included in kits must be NEW items.

All emergency kits are carefully planned to make them usable in the greatest number of situations. Since strict rules often govern product entry into international countries, it is important that kits contain only the requested items, nothing more.

Do NOT include any personal notes, money or additional materials in the kits. These things must be painstakingly removed and will delay the shipment.

Additionally, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) receives funds from local churches that pay for the administrative costs associated with getting money where it needs to be for relief. Therefore, if you give money for Haiti relief to UMCOR, then 100% of your donation will go to Haiti relief. United Methodists (and others) may give through the local church, contact pastors for more information. If you give on-line, remember to indicate the name of your local church. http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umcor/

Southern Baptists are also involved in the relief effort.

John Pond, Director of Missions with the West Chowan Baptist Association, said at this point he is advising churches to directly send the monetary donations collected from their respective congregations to the NC Baptist Men. That organization is already in Haiti providing medical relief.

“By sending the money directly to the Baptist Men, it speeds up the process as that money is channeled to them at a time when they need it the most,” Pond said.

Those wishing to mail a check designated for NCBM Haiti Relief Fund can do so at the following address:

North Carolina Baptist Men

P. O. Box 1107

Cary, NC 27512-1107

Pond added that he had been in contact with the Baptist Men’s office, awaiting word on when they will assemble a relief team to send to Haiti.

“Once that information is shared, I will get in contact with our individual churches to see if anyone wants to volunteer to be a part of that effort,” Pond said.

The Assemblies of God, a denomination with churches throughout the Roanoke-Chowan area, sent a plea for help to its member institutions. There are 60-plus AG congregations in Haiti as well as two missionaries sponsored by the denomination.

Offerings were taken at AG churches this past Sunday.

The Roanoke Missionary Baptist Association is meeting later this week to determine how best to aid the earthquake victims, according to a spokesperson for that group.

At least one local resident is already in Haiti assisting the earthquake victims. Billy Helms, a Murfreesboro firefighter and a certified paramedic, deployed Thursday with a FEMA Relief team.

Meanwhile, the Methodist Church is grieving the loss of one of its leaders, the Rev. Dr. Sam Dixon of Roanoke Rapids in nearby Halifax County.

First discovered alive with others in the rubble of a Port-au-Prince hotel, Dr. Dixon died before he could be rescued, according to a news release from the General Board of Global Ministries based in New York.

Dr. Dixon was the head of the humanitarian relief agency of The United Methodist Church. He was part of a group of mission and relief specialists trapped by the collapse of the Hotel Montana. Other persons in the group of five, including two more from the General Board of Global Ministries, were rescued and were back in the US by the morning of January 16. The group, who were at the hotel for meetings with representatives of other organizations in an effort to improve medical services in Haiti, was pinned down for more than 55 hours.

“Sam Dixon was a tireless servant of the church of Jesus Christ on behalf of all of us,” said Bishop Joel N. Martinez, interim general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries. “His death is an incalculable loss to Global Ministries, UMCOR and our worldwide ministry of relief to God’s most vulnerable children. Our directors and staff extend their condolences to Sam’s wife, Cindy, their children, and their wider circle of friends and colleagues.”

Dixon was a native of North Carolina where he served for 24 years as a pastor. He came to the General Board of Global Ministries in1998 to serve as director of field operations of the non-governmental agency (NGO) section of UMCOR. He then became head of the United Methodist Development Fund and moved up to head the unit on Evangelization and Church Growth. Dixon was tapped to head UMCOR in 2007.

He was officially a deputy general secretary of Global Ministries assigned to UMCOR, where he oversaw programs of emergency relief, long-term disaster recovery, economic development, health services, and peace-building.

Dixon was educated at the University of North Carolina and the Chicago Theological Seminary. He was a member of the North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference of his church. He and his wife have four children and two grandchildren. He is also survived by his mother and three sisters and a host of loving friends.