The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas has published a July 3, 2014 letter and appeal from the Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge on their diocesan website:[Episcopal Diocese of West Texas] As you are likely aware, the border is experiencing record numbers of people, primarily from Central America, seeking to enter the United States. Several cities within our diocese are at the forefront of these record numbers. If you have been following the news reports, you know that detention facilities are overflowing and needs are overwhelming. There are many community volunteers and government agencies attempting to deal with the situation. Many, many of those seeking to enter the United States are families or unaccompanied minor children. While U.S. Immigration policy remains stalled in Washington, human needs continue. That is where we come in.
I have just returned from the Valley where I have spoken with clergy and our Commission on Emergency Response leaders about our response to the humanitarian needs of the children and families coming across the border. Particularly hard hit are the communities of McAllen and Laredo; although the needs are not only limited to those locations.
St. John’s, McAllen, and Christ Church, Laredo, are doing much to reach these individuals with basic human needs. Both congregations are participating in church-wide and city-wide cooperative efforts. Both of these congregations tell us that they are able to assemble packets and/or backpacks to help these children and families while the authorities are processing them. Both congregations have volunteers working in a variety of ways to meet the needs.
Our diocesan World Mission Department (Marthe Curry, Betty Chumney, Kaitlin Reed) is working closely with our diocesan Commission Emergency Response (led by Bob Thompson and Chris Roque). Episcopal Relief and Development has sent a $10,000 emergency grant to St. John’s in McAllen to assist. Several dioceses have offered their involvement. What is needed most at this moment is funding to continue to purchase things such as hygiene kits, water bottles, toothpaste, soap, diapers, snacks, underwear, t-shirts, and so forth.
We have established a fund here at the Jones Center to receive all monetary contributions that then can be drawn from and disbursed as needed by our coordinating rectors on the sites. Checks should be made out to the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, noted for Emergency Relief, and our World Mission Department will make sure these funds reach those in need. They can be mailed to:
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
P.O. Box 6885
San Antonio, TX 78209
Other needs will likely manifest themselves in the foreseeable future as this appears to be a situation that will not end in the short term. There is also a great need for volunteers at designated locations to stuff emergency packs and to help professionals shepherd the refugees through the hospitality process. Task Force leaders will coordinate all volunteers. If you would like more first-hand information about the border situation and how to help, please feel free to call St. John’s, McAllen (956-687-6191) and Christ Church, Laredo (956-723-5714).
This is an important opportunity for us to show Christ’s love in a tangible way. I urge each of you to wholeheartedly and sacrificially respond to this appeal; and I thank you for your generosity in responding to human need and suffering. As our Lord tells us, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).