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Oct 05, 2011 | Noreen McMahan

Resurrection, Austin, Collects and Delivers Tons of Donations

Resurrection Bastrop
Resurrection Bastrop 2
Volunteers sort donations at ECR

When Woody Ledenham, pulled into the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection (ECR), Austin, parish hall parking lot on the morning after Labor Day, he was astonished by the line of cars, trucks, and vans, that were already parked and waiting. As the director of ECR outreach ministries, Ledenham, prepared to facilitate the collection of goods for the victims of the Bastrop fires that consumed more than 1600 homes.


Ledenham, Joe Page, and ECR rector, the Rev. Jim Stockton opened the double doors of the parish hall and began unloading. The hours and days that followed were a blur as vehicles arrived, unloaded, and left to be replaced. Volunteers arrived, took responsibility for various sorting stations and reappeared faithfully day after day.


“We are pleased that ECR provided a community space to touch the lives of the people of Bastrop who lost their homes,” Page said.


Various Austin neighborhoods donated goods of very high quality. Many of the items were new and still in their packages. People would put useful items from their homes in their vehicles, and then stop by department stores to pick up more.


“We were organized,” Page said with pride. “Every item coming through the ECR drop-off was carefully sorted, boxed, and labeled.”


The church rented two 26-foot U-Haul trucks to carry the provisions to Bastrop. When the trucks were loaded the first time, Stockton and Page eagerly drove them to the primary Bastrop collection center. However, upon their arrival, they were informed that the center was overwhelmed and could not accept any more goods.


But when the collection center organizers learned ECR was carrying needed items that were clearly boxed and sorted, they enthusiastically accepted the contents of one of the trucks. Then, they referred ECR to a secondary Bastrop collection center. At the second center, Stockton and Page discovered a long line of other trucks waiting ahead of them. It was with mixed feelings that they began the time-consuming process of finding other collection centers and drop-off points.


“We had to spend extra ingenuity and time to ensure that the goods we had so carefully sorted would meet the intended needs,” Page said. “It was a wonderful problem to solve, but it was a problem.”


ECR continued collecting goods for 10 days from around the Austin area.


“We worked so hard that at the end of a day, we felt we’d have to crawl out of the parish hall on our knees,” Ledenham said. “Then, we couldn’t wait to return the next day.”


Ledenham was touched by the chance to see the joy of all the volunteers and neighbors who eagerly stepped forth to give to their neighbors in their time of loss.


“Giving imparts a comforting joy to the giver,” he said. “I saw that incredible joy in all the tired faces of the volunteers in the ECR parish hall and in the faces of all the people who arrived at the parish hall to give abundantly.”


Every day, ECR welcomed new volunteers including parishioner Julia Aleman who may have been the only person to worked Saturdays as well as most of the weekdays.


“ECR was also blessed with the volunteer help of several seminarians from the Seminary of the Southwest, members of the UT Women's Basketball team and a crew from Spirit Radio, FM 105.9,” Stockton said. “The ultimate quantity collected, sorted, packed, and delivered equated to about three trailer-truck loads of goods and items.”


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