Churches in north Georgia knew exactly what children in Kentucky communities leveled by tornadoes needed to lift their spirits — new bikes and toys.
In an inspiring show of generosity, Georgia churches and others donated more than $80,000 for children who survived the deadly outbreak of tornadoes that leveled entire communities in Kentucky last month, killing 77 people.
Jamie Callaway, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Bowman, Ga., said local residents were heartbroken for the families who lost everything in the tornadoes and decided to do something especially for the children whose lives were turned upside down.
With so many organizations focusing on providing basic needs like food, water and shelter, Ricky Thrasher, head of Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief, said it’s important that the children aren’t overlooked. Thrasher said the show of love by the Georgia churches and businesses could provide the kind of boost children need.
Callaway posted a call for donations on Facebook. The response was beyond his expectations.
“In nine days, the Lord provided almost $84,000,” he said. “We wound up providing gifts to 230 kids. They got boxes of toys, new bicycles and gift cards.”
Faith Baptist Church has become known for such outreaches to families impacted by natural disasters, whether hurricanes, tornadoes or floods. In just the past few months, the church’s crisis response team has deployed to several locations, including other parts of Georgia and Alabama after tornados in March.
Last month, they delivered firewood to residents of a Navajo reservation in New Mexico. That firewood was from trees knocked down by a tornado in Coweta County. The crisis team’s chainsaw crews had removed the fallen trees from homes and sawed them into firewood.
In Kentucky, the Georgia Baptists partnered with Macedonia Baptist Church in Kuttawa, population 650, to get the gifts to children. Macedonia Pastor Bryan Grigg handled arrangements for a distribution center where families could pick up their gifts.
Callaway noted, “To see the Lord work all this out was just absolutely amazing. It was something.”
Faith Baptist Church hauled the bikes of every size and style, plus plastic storage bins filled with all kinds of toys, in a caravan of six trucks and trailers filled with more than 200 bicycles that had been purchased from Walmart stores across north Georgia.
“We would have 20 to 30 people shopping for the kids every evening,” Callaway said.
Children under 14 received the bikes. Teens over 14 received gift cards to purchase what they wanted.
“Our community, through churches, individuals and businesses, came through in an unbelievable way,” Callaway said.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Roger Alford and first published by the Christian Index, news service of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.