by Pr. Anne Harman
On Friday morning, I saw a Facebook post from a friend, Pastor Craig Cranston, who has just taken a call at St. John the Apostle MCC church in Ft. Myers. He was desperately looking for water and said he would personally pick up water in St. Pete. I called Pr. Craig and asked, “What if we could provide a U-Haul truck?” All he said was, “I love you!” And it started.
Gene, from St. Paul’s, agreed to drive the truck and our endowment trustees approved a grant to pay for it. We planned to have St. Paul’s parking lot as a drop-off site on Sunday and then stop at King of Peace MCC in St. Pete to pick up that first call for water.
St. Matthias council met and sent Rob shopping with $500. Later that day, when Rob found generators available at Sam’s Club, he called the council again and they made another $1,000 available to send a generator.
I emailed every pastor I know in the area. We plastered Facebook. Pastor Katy Fast from St. Mark’s Lutheran, Dunedin, reached out and offered her youth and their parents to help load the truck.
Within a half-hour of collecting at that church we knew we couldn’t fit everything in our truck. Caroline from St. Mark offered to pay for a second truck and then went off with a small group to try to find another truck. My sister, Teresa, agreed to drive the second truck.
People from all over Pinellas County came. Pastor Tom Mitchel from Paradise Lutheran drove up with food and water and countless pastors and congregants from many denominations came by to drop off supplies, offer a word of encouragement, or help load the truck.
We overfilled the first truck and had to move half of the load to the second truck. We left a lot of food and water behind and never made it to the St. Pete stop. We are going back with another truck on Wednesday to deliver the rest.
Saturday, October 1 was the first anniversary of my call to St. Paul’s. I learned two big lessons this week. First, we don’t have to do everything by ourselves. It would have been easy to say St. Paul’s and St. Matthias don’t have the manpower to load a truck—and we don’t. However, we could provide a place and make funds available to get the needed equipment. I learned to find and rely on partners in the community. The pastors and our local congregations, Lutheran and others, wanted to help and came out in full force. Second, lesson – you can’t fill a U-Haul truck with bottled water. Do the math first!