In just two weeks, as this Reporter was going to press on Jan. 27, LCMS World Relief and Human Care had received donations and pledges totaling $1.35 million to assist victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti.
That amount includes a $100,000 grant from the Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis, which is offering to match — through Feb. 28 — up to $6,000 in donations from each of its 65 member congregations, which could result in as much as $390,000 more.
LCMS World Relief and Human Care (WR-HC) has allocated $105,000 in emergency funds for Haiti so far this year: $75,000 of that grant is being used by LCMS missionaries and Mercy Medical Team volunteers to provide food, water, and medical care in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and $30,000 went to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti — an LCMS partner church body — for food, water, and shelter.
“The suffering of the Haitians was apparent as we met with Rev. Marky Kessa, president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti, and saw the Haitians who sought urgent medical care across the Dominican Republic border in Jimani,” said Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, executive director of LCMS WR-HC, who was in the Dominican Republic and Haiti Jan. 21-26. “These funds will be used to provide basic necessities such as food, water, and medical supplies still needed so desperately, and also will help support our long-term recovery efforts in Haiti.
“Praise be to God for the Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis and for the generosity of our members,” Harrison said.
Rev. John Fale, associate executive director of LCMS WR-HC, said the Synod’s mercy arm would be focusing on “maximum relief and assistance” to Haiti — “both now and for years to come.”
The Synod’s mercy arm also has pledged, according to Fale, significant dollars to Lutheran World Relief, Baltimore, to assist in its response. The amount of that grant has not yet been determined.
Hans Springer, associate executive director for fund development with LCMS WR-HC, said donations of all sizes are coming in every day.
One man Springer spoke with made a $10 gift to “make sure that his church was doing relief work in Haiti,” he said.
Another donor contributed money she was going to use to fix her roof, saying, “the people in Haiti needed help more.”
Half of the gifts to date, Springer said, have been made on credit cards — either by phone or via the Web. “On the Martin Luther King holiday, we saw the highest number of gifts in volume for a single day in the history of the LCMS receiving gifts by this means — a record for us,” he told Reporter.
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is offering a 50 percent matching gift — $1 for every $2 contributed by its members to Lutheran disaster relief agencies, including LCMS World Relief and Human Care and Lutheran World Relief, Baltimore.
Thrivent Financial has pledged to give as much as $1 million to the effort, dubbed “Helping Haiti,” which could result in a total of $3 million.
Contributions to any of the following will qualify for the Thrivent matching gift:
* LCMS World Relief and Human Care, online at www.lcms.org, by phone at 888-930-4438 (toll-free), or by mail at P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861 (mark checks “Haiti Earthquake Relief”).
* Lutheran World Relief (LWR), online at www.lwr.org/haiti, by phone at 800-597-5972, by mail at LWR — Haiti Earthquake, P.O. Box 17061, Baltimore, MD 21298-9832, or by “texting” “LWR” to 40579 to give a $10 gift from your cell phone (when you get a confirmation message, reply “yes”). LWR also is asking for contributions of quilts, health kits, school kits, and layettes for Haiti. For more information, visit the LWR Web site.
* Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, online at www.thrivent.com/helpinghaiti or by phone at 800-236-3736 (when prompted, please say “directory,” then enter ext. 83003).
Please note that the maximum Thrivent Financial match is $250 per member donation. Matching contributions will be accepted through March 31.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. taxpayers who make charitable contributions to Haiti relief programs before March 1 may claim those contributions on either their 2009 or 2010 tax returns.
Posted Jan. 27, 2010