Quilts and Kits Bring Comfort for Katrina, Rita Survivors

Baltimore, MD (October 5, 2005) — Three shipments of material aid, including quilts, health kits and school kits, all gifts from Lutheran World Relief, have been received by emergency response staff working for International Orthodox Christian Charities in Houston, Texas, and Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi.

While hundreds of tons of food, clothing, diapers and children’s supplies, water and medicines have been distributed throughout the hurricane affected areas, the measure of care and comfort brought by the hand-made quilts held added significance for survivors who received them.

“The beauty of these quilts is compounded by what went into them,” observed Mary Francis Ford, who heads the distribution center at Our Lady of Fatima Roman Catholic Church in Biloxi, Miss. that is the hub of an ecumenical effort supported by IOCC together with 18 churches representing many faith communities in the area.

“We are in awe. It is so nice to have something so beautiful in addition to being helpful,” said Ford as she surveyed the quilts.

A total of 22,400 quilts will be given to people displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita who have no bedding, according to Frank Carlin, field director of the IOCC emergency response team

It was clear that the brightly-colored quilts warmed the spirits as well as the bodies of weary hurricane survivors who received them.

“I remember how winds blew salt water 50 miles inland and turned everything brown,” recalled one woman as she received a hand-made quilt in Biloxi, Miss. “After what seems like such a long period, it is refreshing to see something so colorful and beautiful.”

Nearby an 80-year-old woman started crying at the sight of the quilts.

“I lost everything. My house was blown away and with it was my grandmother’s quilt,” she said as tears mixed with joy and sadness cascaded off of her cheeks.

The school kits will provide school supplies for 4,510 displaced children, and the 6,600 health kits will help people maintain personal hygiene. The value of the quilts and kits for Biloxi, Miss. alone is more than $360,000.

Both IOCC and LWR are members of Action by Church Together, a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergencies. The Action by Churches Together alliance is made up of Protestant and Orthodox churches.

Founded in 1992, IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA). Contributions to IOCC’s Hurricane Disaster Response Fund may be sent to IOCC, “Hurricane Relief,” P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, MD 21263-0225.