After Hurricane Sandy left the region, a group of local churches decided to help out — but wait to ensure their assistance had the best impact.
Residents of the Stanley Holmes Village in Atlantic City were treated to a dinner and giveaway of winter clothes and blankets during a special "Operation Keep Warm" event Monday night.
Pastor Luke A. Witherspoon, of the Living Word Church International in Egg Harbor Township, said after the storm his congregants were very emotional and wanted to help. But Witherspoon said they decided to partner with Pastor Horace W. Pritchett Jr. of the Faith Tabernacle Community Church in Clayton. Gloucester County, and work on a longer-range plan to provide services after the first wave of help ended.
"We understood the need would be around for a while," he said. "This is the Lord's work. This is what we're called to do."
Pritchett said the mission is to provide assistance to the people, both spiritually as well as physically, by providing clothing and blankets.
The event fed and distributed clothing and blankets to about 200 people. Witherspoon said they plan to do more events in the future as needed. They worked with other local churches; the Shore Fellowship Church in Egg Harbor Township donated 100 blankets for the residents.
The clergy members also organized the event with the Stanley Homes Village Work Team — a group of volunteers that provide programs for residents in the complex and the surrounding neighborhood.
Carl Bell, president of the group, said the event was similar to others the group did in the community when her grandmother Virgie Lee Jordan started the organization in 1976.
"I'm very happy we could have it back," he said. "With all this going on it does help put smiles on the kids' faces."
Ten-year-old Syeda Bukhari picked up a new coat and hat she plans to wear to school today. Her father Hasnaia Shahcq said his family lost much of its clothing and items in their house at the complex.
"All of this is very good," he said. "We really appreciate it."
Stanley Holmes resident Elaine Hudson said she did not need clothing because she did not lose many items to Sandy but was most appreciative for the dinner that brought everyone together. She said it allowed her to catch up with many of her neighbors and it acted as a late Thanksgiving for many of the residents.
"People were backlogged because of the storm and they did not have the Thanksgiving they wanted but this is good," she said. "I thank God someone is taking care of us. I appreciate all they've done."
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