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St. Aloysius Parish aids in tornado recovery effort
HICKORY — A parish that had begun providing charitable relief closer to home is being put to a big test, in the wake of destruction from a recent tornado.
According to the Hickory Daily Record, eastern Burke County was rocked with an EF2 tornado bouncing all over the landscape in the early morning hours of Jan. 12, damaging or destroying 168 homes along a seven-mile path. Incredibly, no one was killed or seriously injured, but many families were displaced and their lives changed forever with the losses of homes and irreplaceable belongings.
St. Aloysius Church was asked to take the lead for the Charlotte diocese's effort in this recovery.
Parishioners are working with Joe Purello in the Catholic Social Services' Disaster Relief and Justice and Peace offices to apply for a $5,000 Catholic Charities grant to help with some of the repair costs.
The parish is familiar with some of the work that needs to be done, but hasn't done such a large project this close to home before.
Pictured: Members of St. Aloysius Church in Hickory are rebuilding houses in Burke County for neighbors in need, particularly those whose homes were damaged or destroyed following a tornado that hit the area in January. (Photo provided by Kathy Succop)
Like many parishes, St. Aloysius Church has gone on adult mission trips for several years now. We have gone to the North Carolina mountains for three years to do home repairs, the Katrina-damaged area of the Mississippi Gulf Coast for four years, and most recently to Raleigh last October to repair tornado-damaged homes.
After several years of participating in our adult mission trips, we realized that we needed to bring these same relief efforts to our own community, as there are similar needs to be met in Hickory. So the parish created the "Home Improvement Ministry," or "HIM."
We started out building wheelchair ramps and repairing the homes of needy parishioners, and have since branched out to include working with Catawba County Social Services to repair the homes of some needy local citizens.
The grant only went so far, however, and needs remain to be met.
We have had a small group working in Burke County for several weeks now, and the people whose homes we've been working on are so thankful that we would give to them in their time of need.
Now we also hope to be able to make others aware of the rapidly growing mountain of expenses and the need for many volunteers that it will take to restore their homes and their lives.
It is estimated that it will take $13.4 million and probably a year to complete the task of putting our brothers and sisters back in homes they can call their own.
The HIM parish ministry is working both with tornado recovery efforts in Burke County but also continue its other work on the homes of parishioners and other needy local residents.
What drives us to do what we do in our Home Improvement Ministry are the words our Lord gave us: "What you do for the least of my people, that you do unto me." Our Lord also told us to "love your neighbor as yourself."
If we have a need, don't we do everything we can to meet our own need? Then we cannot do anything less for our neighbors, be they down the street or 10 miles away in a neighboring county.
-- Dave Gerhardt, Special to the Catholic News Herald
How you can help
-- St. Aloysius Church: 21 Second St., N.E., Hickory, NC 28601. Call 828-327-2341.
-- Catholic Social Service's Disaster Relief Office: Call 704-370-3225.
-- Burke County American Red Cross: Mail checks to P.O. Box 1329, Hickory, N.C. 28602, donate at www.redcross.org, 1-800-REDCROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 for a $10 donation.
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