By AT News Team, May 27, 2015: More than half the households in Delmont (South Dakota) have been helped by the resource center set up in the American Legion Hall two days after a tornado hit the small town on Mother’s Day (May 10). It is managed by Adventist Community Services (ACS), the relief agency sponsored by the Adventist denomination in the United States.
Pastor Bob Forbes is the ACS disaster response coordinator on site in Delmont, reports the Bismarck Tribune. “We generally tell people to take what they need and don’t be afraid to come back later. That’s what we are here for,” he told the newspaper. Forbes leads the Adventist congregation in Lehr, North Dakota, and works as an ACS volunteer for the denomination’s Dakota Conference.
About $55,000 worth of donated items have arrived in Delmont so far, Forbes estimated. There are still supplies that have not yet been unpacked and inventoried, although about 170 of the 300 residents in the village have come in and obtained emergency items they need because their homes are destroyed or damaged. This includes groceries and household items “ranging from paper plates to blankets to small fans, and from shampoo to Rice-A-Roni,” stated the newspaper.
Perhaps the most unique item donated will not be found at the American Legion Hall. A man in Corsica (South Dakota) has offered a single-story home he owns if the family that receives it will arrange for it to be moved to their land.
There are a few items ACS is asking that no one donate; clothing. They have already received 26 boxes of clothing from Connecticut, which more than meets the need. ACS does not distribute second-hand socks, underwear or shoes because of sanitary issues. “There’s no solid way to know that those items are clean and disinfected,” according to the newspaper.
One of the local residents displaced by the storm, Marjorie Gilbert told the newspaper about the ACS center; “It’s been a godsend. You don’t have the stuff around that you’re used to having and for these folks to be here providing goods here and giving us what’s needed, you can’t thank them enough.”
ACS is a separately-incorporated public charity organization from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists with a 501(c)3 tax-exempt status under United States law. ACS provides disaster response services under contracts with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross, although it does not get any funding from either organization.
Adventists are committed in writing to respond to any disaster in the U.S. declared by the president or a state governor. Each conference in the country must maintain a qualified response team and provide regular training and funding for disaster operations, although the ACS national office provides seed money each time there is a disaster response project.
ACS is always looking for volunteers who want to get the training so they can be prepared to help when disasters strike. Spontaneous, untrained volunteers can also be used, but a core of trained personnel are necessary for ACS to work in areas restricted by state police and emergency services. If you are interested in current disaster response projects underway by ACS, want to donate to support the center in South Dakota or in other places, or want to learn about disaster response training, there is more information at this Web site: www.communityservices.org