SIDNEY – The Valley Church is collecting disaster relief supplies for Honduras, a country that already was suffering from extreme poverty before a string of natural disasters this year.
Donations are being accepted through Dec. 7, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Donation centers are located at both campuses of The Valley Church, 1400 Seidel Parkway in Piqua and 916 N. Market St. in Troy; at the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA, 300 E. Parkwood St. in Sidney; and at the Wapak Athletic Club, 610 N. Dixie Drive in Wapakoneta.
The Valley Church, which has organized mission trips to Honduras for more than 20 years, saw an urgent need to collect donations after hearing about the devastation the country has experienced in recent weeks, said Rob Alexander, the coordinator for the church’s Honduras Project.
“It’s the poorest of the Central American countries, and it’s had a lot of challenges,” Alexander said. “You’re talking flood waters that are to rooftops of homes, currents that just washed away entire cities, landslides that took entire communities with them. The devastation was just remarkable.”
Honduras was hit by Category 4 Hurricane Eta in early November and then was hit by Category 5 Hurricane Iota a couple of weeks later. A week after Iota struck the region, a magnitude 4.9 earthquake caused even more damage.
Before the hurricanes and earthquake, Honduras already was dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and dengue fever, a mosquito-borne viral disease. The country also was hit by Category 1 Hurricane Nana in September.
“Basically they’ve had two plagues, three hurricanes and just last week they had a small earthquake,” Alexander said.
More than half of Hondurans lived in poverty prior to this year’s disasters, and now many of them have lost what little belongings they had previously.
Bridges, major highways and crops also have been destroyed, leaving years of recovery work ahead.
“This is going to get a lot rougher before it gets better,” Alexander said.
To aid in the recovery, The Valley Church is collecting new and lightly used clothing; dry food items; items for cooking and eating; personal hygiene items; over-the-counter medicine and medical supplies; baby items such as diapers and baby powder; tools; and household items such as pillows, sheets and towels.
“If you can just imagine losing everything, what somebody would need,” said Ed Thomas, a member of the church.
The church also is collecting financial contributions and has seen a strong response in the first few days of its collection drive.
“I’ve gotten some great response,” Thomas said. “A lot of people are saying they’re going to donate financially.
“So far the response has been very positive, and I’m very hopeful that we’re going to get some great support.”
Missionary work has been an important part of The Valley Church since it was founded in 1994. Founding pastor Paul Jetter had been a missionary in Honduras and encouraged his congregation to contribute through mission work.
“I always kid people I went kicking and screaming,” Alexander said of his mission work. “But once I got down there and got to meet the people and understand the needs, I quickly embraced the Honduran people.”
Alexander has been to Honduras 13 times in the past six years. He was scheduled to travel there in March and July, but those trips were canceled because of COVID-19.
Thomas’ father was a pastor so he went to Bolivia with his family, inspiring him to take up future mission work in South America, Mexico and Honduras.
“I just feel it’s a big part of my faith, my Christian faith,” Thomas said. “I feel as a Christian God calls us to serve no matter where we are.”
Now in a time of great need, The Valley Church hopes others in the community will join in their efforts to help the people of Honduras.
“We think it’s a good unifier,” Alexander said. “There’s so many things that pull us apart. This is a thing we can all do together.”
For more information about The Valley Church’s collection drive, visit https://thevalley.church/hopeforhonduras, call Alexander at 937-773-0661 or call Thomas at 937-492-9134.
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-538-4824.