About 75 volunteers with the Southern Baptist Convention of Churches will head north with enough food and equipment to feed thousands of people a day, and all of this is paid for with a portion of tithings from churchgoers.
There's enough food in the Southern Baptist Convention warehouse in Leesburg to feed five thousand people. Combine that with the equipment and vendors volunteers plan to meet in New York City.
"Twenty-five thousand people if you count all the vendors they plan to meet and the equipment they have," says Terry Ryan, the Assoc. Team Strategist of Disaster Relief for the Southern Baptist Church. "That's a lot of cans of green beans!"
You may be surprised to learn that the Southern Baptist Convention of Churches is right up there with the American Red Cross when it comes to providing disaster relief. At the Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center, volunteers are proud to do their work. We caught up with them while packing Friday night, and wave one will leave Saturday morning in a caravan of about ten vehicles.
There are plans for a round two and three of volunteers as well, if needed. Ryan explains, "When we roll into an area, we don't need cell phone coverage, we don't need fuel, we don't need electricity. We come ready to stand alone."
"This is a passion of mine," says Ryan. "It has to be, because there isn't enough money in the world to pay someone to do this, for one. You have to really enjoy it. I don't understand why somebody wouldn't want to help."
The devastating pictures and stories we've seen seem to beg the same question. Terry has been doing this for years and says the response will never be fast enough in natural disasters this large. Volunteerism is key, he adds.
"Without volunteer organizations like the Southern Baptist Church, the Red Cross, The Salvation Army, we would never be able to respond to any disasters in America. Our government is just not big enough to help in things like this."
Tom Antonowicz, a volunteer, says, "Every day I go out there and try to help somebody, and the blessings I get from it is outrageous!"
If you want more information about how you can help, there is more information at www.FLBaptist.org.