■ BY SUE ERWIN
Members of the Lighthouse United Methodist Church of Boca Grande set a challenge for the congregation to collect items and put together flood buckets and hygiene kits for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
Pastor Matthew Williams spoke about the challenge at the service last Sunday, and church members stepped up to show their support.
Lighthouse Church member Pat Witschonke spearheaded the idea, went shopping at the Dollar Store and started stocking up on items like work gloves, dish soap, scrub brushes, trash bags, bug spray and other cleaning materials.
She sent out information about the project, and several people contacted her, saying they wanted to help.
“Home Depot also gave us a 10 percent discount so we could purchase the 5-gallon buckets with resealable lids,” Witschonke said. “Now we just need to get them assembled and sent off to Texas.”
But all that is on hold this week as Hurricane Irma threatens the state of Florida.
The intent, if all remains well in our community over the next several days, is to send the assembled buckets to Venice, where they will be shrink-wrapped and shipped to Texas on September 21.
The buckets have an estimated value of $65.
The bucket brigades are a regular effort of a national association called the United Methodist Committee on Relief. The UMCOR is a ministry of the Methodist Church and was one of the first organizations to respond to the Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas. All funds generated are for natural disasters, and 100 percent goes toward relief efforts.
In total, the church received enough donated items for 50 flood buckets and 100 personal hygiene kits, which included things like hand soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste,
“We also collected items and donated 50 buckets last year to people in Louisiana who needed help,” Witschonke said. “We have some wonderful, generous people at the church, and they have very big hearts.”
Witschonke has family in Houston who luckily made it through the storm safely.
“They live in a newer development, and it was planned very well to handle storms and flooding,” she said.
If you would like to help, you can send a check to the Lighthouse United Methodist Church of Boca Grande, 325 Third Street, Boca Grande, FL 33921. Mark it “Hurricane Harvey,” and it will go toward more flood buckets and hygiene kits.
For more information, call the church art (941) 964-2479.