Orthodox Christian Parishes Respond to Haiti, Assemble Aid Packages

Linthicum Heights, MD (January 16, 2010) — The emails started flying almost as soon as word got out. Haiti had been devastated by its worst earthquake in 200 years and the ladies of Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in a quiet suburb south of Baltimore went to work.

“We decided that children or anyone who was going to the Holy Cross movie night on Saturday could make hygiene kits for IOCC,” said Debora Mattingly, president of the church’s ladies group. Mattingly then sent out an email on Wednesday – just one day after the quake hit – asking those who were stopping by at that evening’s Vespers service to also bring supplies.

Hygiene kits, filled with such basics as soap, towels, toothbrushes and band aids are crucially important to help maintain sanitary conditions and keep disease at bay during humanitarian disasters like Haiti. Orthodox parishes throughout the country and volunteer metropolitan committees of the agency have called IOCC to participate in the drive to provide the hygiene kits.

“The earthquake has taken its toll, but the fear now is that disease will set in and that will take its toll as well,” says Father Angelo Pappas, priest of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Portsmouth, NH who immediately recruited the youth of his church as well as the Ladies Philoptochos Society to create hygiene kits and clean-up buckets for IOCC.

Orthodox Christians assemble the kits and then send them to a facility in Western Maryland where their delivery to areas of need like Haiti is coordinated with ecumenical partners. IOCC has mobilized its disaster response team and is coordinating with other Orthodox and ecumenical partners to monitor and respond to the emerging needs in Haiti.

“It’s both a practical thing for us and for those in need – and it educates our children as well,” says Holy Cross’s Father Gregory Mathewes-Green, whose parish has been supporting IOCC since the mid 1990s.

IOCC, founded in 1992 as the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), has implemented over $300 million in relief and development programs in 33 countries around the world.

You can help the victims of disasters around the world, like the Haiti Earthquake, by making a financial gift to the IOCC International Emergency Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need. To make a gift, please visit www.iocc.org, call toll free at 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or mail a check or money order payable to IOCC, P.O. Box 17398, Baltimore, Md. 21297-0429.

Orthodox faithful and parishes are encouraged to begin assembling hygiene kits and emergency clean up buckets to be shipped to Haiti.