Sermon calls for aid, Church on the Hill responds with funds, cleaning supplies

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LENOX — Nearly three dozen red buckets stuffed with sponges, laundry detergent, vinyl gloves and other cleaning supplies are headed to hurricane victims in the U.S. and Caribbean thanks to the Church on the Hill.

Led by Rev. John Nelson, pastor of The United Church of Christ, 20 Congregationalists gathered at the church chapel on Main Street Sunday to complete a spur-of-the-moment relief effort that began three weeks ago.

During the Sept. 10 church service, Deacon Amy Chin made an impassioned plea from the pulpit — between hurricanes Harvey and Irma — for money to buy the cleaning products that would be distributed by Church World Services. The nonprofit, nondenominational religious organization has added hurricane relief to its global mission of helping the world's neediest such as immigrants, refugees and impoverished nations.

Chin's straight-from-the-heart request quickly raised $2,000 by the end of the day, reaching $3,604 in less than three weeks.

"I was in tears. I couldn't believe it," she said.

The outreach ministry was fueled by a church member's offer that was met three times over on Sept. 10.

"Someone passed me a note with a $500 challenge, but the money had to be matched that day," Nelson recalled. "I had $1,500 by the end of the day, plus the $500 challenge donation."

Thanks to a local janitorial supply company, the monetary donations went a long way as the company offered the cleaning products at wholesale prices, further discounted, according to Nelson. Any unspent money will be used to defray the cost of shipping the buckets to the hurricane ravaged regions. In all, 15 packaged items totaling some 2,500 trash bags, scouring pads, disinfectant cleaner and reusable towels are among the cleanup products Church World Services will distribute to such hard hit areas as Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Church Moderator Ellen Merritt wasn't surprised by the congregation's rapid response to the Mother Nature's triple punch of Harvey, Irma and Maria.

"One thing we do well as a church — we get along and have fun together," she said. "We're a small church with a big heart."

Reach staff writer Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233


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