Faith-Based Groups Remain Hard at Work for Storm Victims

Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast with weaker winds than was first reported. The storm made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane, not a Category 4, according to a final report from the National Hurricane Center.

While New Orleans was believed to be able to withstand the flooding of a fast-moving Category 3 storm, according to The Associated Press, the slow nature of Katrina left 80 percent of the city under water and tens of thousands of people in need.

This Christmas, much of the charitable giving will be given to Americans as many remain homeless and hungry from the August disaster. Churches have continued to play an integral part in helping affected individuals and families recover from their losses and get back to normalcy.

"The church has been very good to us from helping us mentally, spiritually, even financially," said Iris Morris, a single mother from Gretna, La., according to the United Methodist News Service. "If we need to do anything, go anyplace, someone is always willing to help. They have welcomed us, they have opened their hearts and lives to us."

Pine Forest United Methodist Church in Goldsboro helped provide Morris a new start for her family of seven. Along with a home, transportation and food, Pine Forest members have also helped the Morris family find jobs and enroll in schools.

Contributions within the United Methodist Church for relief efforts have allowed for such assistance and care to hundreds of storm victims. For volunteers who have been working day and night from other local churches and ministries across the nation, playing their part to help, grants have kept their supplies replenished to keep their hands moving and hearts outreaching around-the-clock.

In addition to its own relief efforts, Operation Blessing International has awarded 224 grants to faith-based organizations to date. More than $3.5 million have been distributed to churches and ministries in ten states including Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia to be utilized for relief work. The funds have helped more than 400,000 victims with shelter, food, clothes, bedding and other essentials.

And in the process of supplying the needs, volunteers have also been able to share their faith with those devastated by the storm.

Established in 1978, Operation Blessing International Relief and Development Corporation is a nonprofit humanitarian organization based in Virginia Beach, Va. OBI has helped more than 179.7 million people in 96 countries and all 50 states.

To make a donation to Operation Blessing International, visit www.ob.org.