Hope in a hurricane

Liberty raises record donation amount for Hurricane Matthew disaster relief

Liberty University raised more than $37,000 for victims of Hurricane Matthew through a partnership with Gleaning For The World, a nonprofit humanitarian organization and helped residents of Lumberton, North Carolina through a donation match program.

The university matched $12,500 in donations given by students between Dec. 13-31.

The funds raised allowed Gleaning For The World to provide 12,300 blankets, 2,000 Bibles, 126,000 pounds of food, 1,000 Christmas gifts and a load of roofing materials to Lumberton residents.

HELPING HAND — USAID Volunteers brought boxes of donations to hurricane refugees in Haiti after it was hit severely by Hurricane Matthew. Photo Credit: Google Images

HELPING HAND — USAID Volunteers brought boxes of donations to hurricane refugees in Haiti after it was hit severely by Hurricane Matthew.
Photo Credit: Google Images

“I really think about what (the donation) means to those people giving up hope,” Randy Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Liberty, said.

“If we gave those people hope, that means everything. It doesn’t matter what it means to (Liberty), it’s what it means to the receiving end.”

Gleaning For The World initially sent supplies to Lumberton in early October after the storm dissipated and the roads were clear.

The organization is currently continuing to support the town, as residents are still in need.

Winter enforces the necessity for blankets and supplies, as many of the families are living in uninsulated and devastated homes.

“The Lumberton area is the third poorest county in the United States,” Ron Davidson, president and chief operating officer of Gleaning For The World said.

“(This donation was unique because) the people had nothing to work with as far as rebuilding. … The donation from Liberty gave us a chance to contact some other corporations and businesses, and through that, we were able to triple the donation.”

Davidson explained that each dollar donated put $12 worth of supplies on the ground.

Because of the organization’s partnerships with various businesses and organizations, about $140,000 worth of supplies have already been given to Lumberton as a result of Liberty’s donation.

“Gleaning For The World gives such great return on investment because of how they procure items,” Smith said.

“I can give them a dollar, and they multiply it.”

In addition to maximizing donations, Gleaning For The World operates on a unique model.

Rather than sending supplies and volunteers directly to disaster victims, the organization works with local churches and organizations that are directly in the afflicted area.

“Local churches … know who is in need,” Davidson explained.

“When the people come in to get supplies, (the church) can also work with them on the spiritual side. (The people) need someone to give them encouragement.”

Many families of Lumberton lost their homes during the hurricane flooding.

As a result, many of their personal items and heirlooms were destroyed, including family Bibles.

Davidson explained that the disaster victims were exchanging food for Bibles.

“You’re dealing with the spiritual as well as the physical needs of the people,” Davidson said.

“(That’s why we give churches) the blankets and Bibles together. That’s how we empower the churches.”

Though this is Liberty’s first donation match partnership with Gleaning For The World, the two organizations have worked together in the past.

Liberty students have volunteered with Gleaning For The World for years, and Thomas Road Baptist Church merged with the nonprofit in 2009.

“I didn’t see the donation as something newsworthy,” Smith said. “It’s what we’re supposed to do.”

Smith is a news reporter.

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