Campus Crusade for Christ International anticipates that thousands of college students and adult volunteers will very soon join its Hurricane Katrina relief efforts through its humanitarian aid ministry, Global Aid Network (GAIN).
"We will be mobilizing college students and other adult volunteers for assistance and food distribution," said Charles Debter, Director of Marketing for Global Aid Network, formerly known as Operation Carelift.
Debter told the Christian Post Thursday that he had spoken by phone to the national leadership in Orlando, Fla., about plans to include students from CCC's campus ministries in GAIN's ongoing efforts to provide emergency care support to hurricane victims.
Florida State University has already confirmed that students from its CCC chapter will serve as volunteers once arrangements are finalized.
Meanwhile, GAIN has been working with partnering ministries in their hurricane relief efforts while it prepares to send its own supply trucks into the hurricane-affected areas.
In Minden, La., the organization is collaborating with Louisiana Baptist Men's Group in four locations to evacuate people from their homes and provide them with meals and housing.
In Picayune, Miss., where ministry partners are already distributing 300 vehicles packed with ice and water, GAIN workers and volunteers will be rotating shifts with other ministry teams. One of GAIN's ministry partners is Convoy of Hope, which is sending 4-8 trucks per day, with various items to Picayune, and GAIN is looking forward to procuring additional items for the trips. According to Debter, trucks carrying food and diapers are currently en route.
But for the time being, GAIN workers are focused on internal operations to prepare for relief opportunities as they arise. An assessment team is expected to visit La. and Miss. stations on Monday to deliver a more complete report of the area's needs and conditions, answering questions such as which areas are inaccessible or have been overlooked.
"We are still in the first week and because of communication challenges and developing situations," explained Debter. "We are still in the process of pulling all of the parts together in the puzzle to make it fit.
"What we are already doing is praying for those who are stranded and displaced and emotionally shaken."
The humanitarian ministry said it particularly needs assistance financially toward the shipment of material aid stored in 20 of GAIN's trucks.
GAIN currently has one truck carrying 4,500 blankets; two carrying 2,000 ten-pound boxes of food items such as rice, canned beans, canned soup; two refrigerated trucks of ice bags; and one truck of hygiene kits. Other trucks contain clothing items, shoes, blankets, orange juice, iced-tea, raisins, Tyson chicken, and reconstruction building supplies.
Debter described that one key element to GAIN's relief efforts will be the distribution of its Hygiene kits, or "Showers in a bag," containing wet wipes, a toothbrush, toothpaste, 3 protein bars, 3 water bottles, and a comb.
In every one the 10,000 hygiene kits GAIN currently has in stock, a Bible, a Josh McDowell book or another evangelistic book will also be included. Debter said he expects 40,000-50,000 more hygiene kits will be assembled in the near future, some through the help of volunteers sending in self-assembled kits.
Debter said the relief efforts are more than a chance to deliver physical aid to hurricane victims but will also give GAIN workers and volunteers a chance to meet people's "life challenges through Jesus Christ."
"The idea is that everywhere that we are providing assistance we want to provide material aid such as food and ice to sustain people as well as to share hope and be a listening ear to those who need to talk and counsel about the experience and emotions they are no doubt feeling," he said.
He said he feels most touched by a scene in Matthew 9:35-38 when Jesus went through the towns, showing compassion upon the multitudes by healing every disease and sickness.
"Truly, the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few," said Debter. "Now is particularly the time especially for the followers of Christ to go hand and hand to give and also to pray."
Donations in the form of checks, marked for "U.S. Hurricane Relief, can be sent to Global Aid Network at:
Global Aid Network
PO Box 139020
Dallas, TX 75313-9020
For more information, go online to www.gainusa.org or call 800-778-7806.