Two weeks into the official relief mobilization to support the survivors of the massive earthquake-tsunami in South Asia, Christian denominations and organizations are reporting record sums of donations and offerings given by online, telephone credit-card transactions and mail-in checks.
According to the United Methodist Church (UMC), the second largest protestant denomination in the US, tsunami relief reached $2 million by January 10; the officials are still processing donations.
"We have deposited checks dated through Dec. 31, 2004, totaling $755,000," Fernandes said. "We continue to receive checks for 2004. We have begun to process mail contributions for 2005. Hundreds of checks are being received each day."
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the largest protestant denomination, collected some 1.4 million dollars by January 6. According to the Baptist Press, there were touching stories of people giving their all to the effort. In one instance, an anonymous giver sent a cashiers check for $3,963.01, with the words, This is all I have that I can claim as my own, written on the note.
President Bush announced last week that the Internal Revenue Service of the U.S. government will allow January donations to tsunami relief to be counted as 2004 charitable contributions.
Fernandes explained that the tax-deductible donations can be applied for either 2004 or 2005.
"Donors can decide whether they want their contribution to go into the 2004 tax year or apply it to 2005, so long as the gift is made by Jan. 31," he said.
Donations to UMCORs "South Asia Emergency" relief efforts can be placed in local church offering plates or sent directly to UMCOR, 475 Riverside Drive, Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Designate checks for UMCOR Advance #274305 and "South Asia Emergency." Online donations can be made at www.methodistrelief.org. Those making credit-card donations can call (800) 554-8583.
Donations to the SBC can be sent by checks, earmarked Asia Earthquake Disaster Relief, to the International Mission Board, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230. To give online, go to the International Mission Boards Website, www.imb.org, and click on Give Now.