United Church launches appeal for Caribbean hurricane relief

    TORONTO, Sept. 17 /CNW/ - The United Church of Canada announced today
that it is launching an emergency financial appeal for hurricane relief. The
appeal focuses on Haiti, Cuba, and other Caribbean countries that are
suffering the consequence of a series of hurricanes that have passed through
the region in recent weeks.
    Hurricanes Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike have left as many as one million
Haitians homeless and more than 500 dead. Serious flooding was reported in
many areas, and Haiti's agricultural capacity is dangerously compromised.
    In Cuba, because of strong civil defence capacity, only seven people were
killed. But houses and other buildings, together with the agricultural sector,
were seriously damaged. Cuban news agencies report that the path of
destruction stretches for more than a thousand kilometres across the island.
At least 30,000 families have lost their homes; another 320,000 homes have
suffered serious damage. Agriculture has been severely affected. Preliminary
reports indicate "colossal losses" in the production of bananas, corn (maize),
sugar cane, coffee, yucca, guava, avocados, and poultry.
    In addition, serious damage was reported in Bahamas, Turks and Caicos
Islands, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, and along the Gulf Coast
of the United States.
    The United Church has already committed $50,000 in immediate humanitarian
aid. These funds will be used to support relief and reconstruction efforts of
the church's partners in the region. The church hopes that donations to the
Caribbean Hurricane Appeal will far exceed this amount, thus enabling the
church to increase its capacity to respond to this humanitarian crisis.
    As always with United Church emergency appeals, 100 percent of all
donations received will be committed to support relief and reconstruction work
for people in need. There is no administration fee deducted. This is made
possible thanks to the generous ongoing support of United Church members to
the church's Mission and Service (M&S) Fund. Contributions to M&S allow the
United Church to absorb the staffing and operating costs of processing
donations for emergency appeals.
    In the case of designated gifts for emergency appeals such as the
Caribbean Hurricane Relief, the church does allocate 15 percent of donations
to replenish the Emergency Response Fund. These monies are used exclusively to
enable the United Church to immediately respond to current and future
emergency needs of people in crisis around the world.
    Individuals are invited to contribute to this emergency appeal through
their local congregation, directly to The United Church of Canada's national
office (3250 Bloor St. West, Suite 300, Toronto, ON M8X 2Y4), or through our
secure online donations page at www.united-church.ca/getinvolved/donate.
Cheques and online donations should be made payable to The United Church of
Canada and marked "Emergency Response: Caribbean Hurricane Relief."
    All funds received will be treated as "designated gifts." Please note
that designated gifts cannot be counted toward a congregation's M&S Fund
credits. However, they are eligible for tax receipts. Congregational
treasurers may receive and receipt individual cheques and then forward one
congregational cheque to The United Church of Canada's national office.
    Church members are also being encouraged to continue to support the
Mission and Service Fund, which contributes to the ongoing work of United
Church partners in the Caribbean and makes possible the United Church's long
history of connection with the people of Haiti and Cuba.
    Further information about the United Church's response to this
humanitarian crisis in the Caribbean is being posted on the United Church's
website (www.united-church.ca) and will be updated as new information becomes

For further information:

For further information: Mary-Frances Denis, Communications Officer, The
United Church of Canada, Tel: (416) 231-7680 ext. 2016, Toll-free:
1-800-268-3781 ext. 2016, Cell: (416) 885-7478, Res: (416) 766-0057, E-mail:

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