ROCK ISLAND -- A 2,500-mile "bucket brigade" helped Super Storm Sandy victims on Staten Island, N.Y., continue clean-up.|
Tom Fox, 65, a member at St. James Lutheran Church, Rock Island, orchestrated a campaign to collect and deliver 139 five-gallon buckets filled with cleaning supplies to Staten Islanders.
He said 52 buckets were from the Quad-Cities, 57 from Zion Lutheran Church in York, Pa., and the remaining 39 buckets donated by churches in the Northeastern Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The cooperative campaign also involved St. Peters Lutheran Church in Dubuque, Iowa, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Cedar Falls, Iowa, St. John's Methodist Church, Davenport and New Era Lutheran Church in Muscatine, Iowa, Mr. Fox said.
"I want to give a huge thank you to Richard VanIseghem from Taylor Ridge," Mr. Fox said. "Richard is a gentleman that I had never met, who, after reading about our project, not only donated 20 empty five-gallon buckets and lids, but also let us borrow his 6x12 enclosed cargo trailer to transport the buckets to New York."
"I figured I could help out," said Mr.VanIseghem, who read about the project in the The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. "That way, it could save them some effort and make it an easier trip for Tom. Itworked out well, and I'm glad I was able to help."
Mr. Fox said the Muscatine church's help came at just the right time, when he realized he needed $205 worth of materials to finish the last buckets. At 3 p.m., New Era member Paul Mayes called Mr. Fox to say church members had read about the project, and took up a collection that raised $265.
"Altogether, we figured we took about $10,000 worth of items," Mr. Fox said.
Fellow St. James Lutheran member Bill Kempf, and Barry Anderson from Zion Lutheran in York, Pa., helped Mr. Fox deliver the buckets, along with 540 jugs of laundry detergent to Messiah Lutheran Church, on Staten Island, on Jan. 18. It took two hours to unpack the truck, while avoiding a ticket for double-parking, Mr. Fox said.
The laundry detergent was donated by a Pennsylvania organization called "The Bread of Life," he said.
Messiah Lutheran is next to the main expressway on Staten Island, on one of the highest points of the island, so high that its steeple is a cell phone tower for five companies, each paying the church $20,000 a year for its use, Mr. Fox said.
"No doubt the stuff we delivered was important to the people of Staten Island," Mr. Fox said, adding that italso showed them they're not forgotten, "and that has to help them feel hopeful again."
The three men drove 2,500 miles in seven days gathering buckets from different churches and going to Staten Island, Mr. Fox said.
"It was all worth it, especially when Messiah Lutheran pastor Garry Square looked at them and said, 'You know the people here will appreciate this more than you will ever know. God bless you.' "
Mr. Fox has orchestrated similar flood-bucket campaigns, including to Minot, N.D., and Tuscaloosa, Ala.
St. James' pastor, the Rev. Janet Lepp, said church members look forward to and love to help Mr. Fox again and again.
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