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June 05. 2013 8:32PM

NH church volunteers to help in Oklahoma tornado cleanup

MANCHESTER — Thirty Manchester area residents will head to Oklahoma next week as part of a church-based initiative to help two communities struggling with the aftereffects of last month’s devastating tornado.

The members of Manchester Christian Church are using their own money to fly next Tuesday to Oklahoma City, where they will break into two groups. One team will head to Moore, the other to Shawnee, said Sue Mazur, outreach director for the 2,800-member church.

Homes and businesses in the two communities were badly damaged by a tornados last month.

Twenty-four people died when the tornado struck Moore on May 20; two people died in Shawnee from a tornado the day earlier.

Eleven days laster, a tornado struck Oklahoma again, bringing devastation anew to several communities, including Moore. Eighteen people died from that tornado.

The 30 Manchester Christian Church volunteers will work on debris cleanup and stay in church basements, Mazur said. Part of the work involves cataloging lost items and trying to connect families with those items, some that were found miles away from where they belong, she said.

She said the church initially asked for 15 volunteers. But the response was strong enough that a second team was added.

“Our church as a whole is very compassionate,” said the pastor, the Rev. Bo Chancey. “They love to care for people, be actively involved, put their faith and love in action.”

The effort is being coordinated through Samaritan’s Purse, which describes itself as a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization that provides spiritual and physical aid to people suffering from war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine.

Mazur said Samaritan’s Purse has drawn support from many churches, most of them closer to Oklahoma than Manchester.

“When they hear we’re from New Hampshire, they’re shocked,” she said. The church is also collecting Home Depot and Lowe’s gift cards to give to people whose property was damaged by the tornado.

mhayward@newstote.comThe volunteers are bringing sleeping bags and other bedding materials. One group will stay at the Family of Faith church in Shawnee. The other Moore group will stay in the Oklahoma City Baptist Church.

Mazur said when it comes to disaster relief, Christian denominations put their theological differences aside and work to help others.

mhayward@unionleader.com


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