METUCHEN — Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski has announced that the Diocese of Metuchen’s 100 parishes, located in Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren counties, will take up a special collection this weekend for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. The funds will be distributed through Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen.
In a letter to all parishioners, the bishop said his thoughts and prayers remain with all those who have been impacted by the destructive effects of the hurricane and that he was greatly moved during a day-long visit to the sites in the diocese that were devastated. Among his stops were South Amboy, Sayreville, Laurence Harbor, Perth Amboy, and an emergency shelter on the Livingston campus of Rutgers University in Piscataway.
“I want you to know that our diocese is doing all it can to help our brothers and sisters in need,” Bishop Bootkoski said. He noted that pastors had opened parish centers as shelters and parishioners served meals, and collected as well as distributed food, clothing and needed supplies.
The bishop also made a point to tell parishioners that Catholic Charities staff members were among the first responders after the storm and have been very proactive in its aftermath. They have been out in our communities helping those who have been displaced from their home and collecting basic needs items. “As you can imagine, their work is far from complete,” the bishop said.
Besides the bishop’s letter to parishioners, other initiatives are also taking place in the diocese.
According to Eric Dill, director of the diocesan Office of Human Resources, employees at the St. John Neumann Pastoral Center in Piscataway have contributed more than $8,000 so far for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Shortly after the storm, he said, employees at the Pastoral Center purchased and donated more than $2,000 worth of items – including diapers, formula and baby food – that were desperately needed by Catholic Charities to assist victims in the temporary shelter at the recreation center on the nearby Livingston campus.
Dill added that a second, monetary collection taken up at the diocesan center has generated an additional $6,100, which is being used to purchase gift cards that will be distributed to storm victims through Catholic Charities. Donations are still coming in; the collection will close Nov. 16.
Jeffry Odell Korgen, executive director of the Department of Planning and Communication said the diocesan website has added a comprehensive section with post-storm resources and other relevant information. It can be accessed at diometuchen.org.
Updated almost daily, the site has a section entitled, “How to GIVE help and GET help,” which contains an extensive list of ways to donate, a matching gift form, locations of local collection and distribution sites, a contact number for volunteer opportunities and parish initiatives to assist storm victims. There is also federal, state, county and local information for those who need it.
The diocesan website links to the Catholic Charities website, ccdom.org, where people can choose to make an online donation or download a PDF mail-in donation form. They can also opt to “like” the organization on Facebook if they want to have access to updates via a social media outlet.
“In addition to cash, check and credit card donations, Catholic Charities has requested gift card donations to discount department stores, supermarkets, home improvement stores, gas stations and pharmacies in amounts of $25 or $50 per card,” said Marianne Majewski, LCSW, executive director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen. “Gift cards will be distributed directly to storm victims in our area so that they may purchase products, clothing, cleaning supplies and other items they need to help them begin to rebuild their lives.”
In addition, to meet the growing demand of helping those in the diocese who require some sort of assistance in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Catholic Charities today launched a Help Line.
“We encourage those who need help to call our Disaster Relief Help Line at 1-732-387-1222 or email email@example.com to obtain information on what kinds of assistance may be available,” Majewski said. The help line can also be used for those who want to make a contribution or to volunteer in relief efforts.