We’ve recently sent another truckload of donated items for the Keys. It included Wall of Hope donated household items from Diocesan convention, Gifts from the children at St. Andrews School, linens donated by Hilton Bahia Mar, refurbished washers, dryers, and refrigerators from Brian Swartz. Pottery Barn Lamps and artificial  Christmas Trees and Tempurpedic mattresses from Mattress Firm, Tables, Chairs, bedding which were shared by our generous and valued partner Bridge to Hope in Homestead. We’ve donated our previous Harris Hall tables for use at Saint Columba. Transportation has been generously donated by American Van Lines of Pompano Beach and by Episcopal Charities.

FUTURE DELIVERY RUNS: our next truck will take gift items from the St. Gregory’s ECW Bazaar (which benefited St. Gregory’s Keys Relief providing a temporary trailer residence) .These items along with any other donations will be transported within the next ten days. 

We are asking people to save nice clothing and gift items to help replace items in the St. Columba thrift shop which was destroyed and which is essential to funding their church. They hope to re-open soon with our help but no date has yet been set.

St. Gregory’s donated the purchase of a used trailer which is providing a home for a family with four children whose employer-provided housing was destroyed. Because the family did not own their home, they’re ineligible for a FEMA trailer so had to move into their mini-van until St. Gregory’s provided this trailer as a home while the father’s employer rebuilds their housing. The children can continue Their schooling, and the family can remain in the Marathon community where they’ve lived for 14 years.Benefit events by our Music Department, our Youth Group fundraiser, and the upcoming ECW Bazaar together with generous donations from several of our families are covering the cost of the trailer’s loss in value for the 9 months it is being used.   Some other churches are following St. Gregory’s lead in contributing to housing. Episcopal Relief and Development recently approved a grant to add more trailers to the  15-trailer Episcopal “campgrounds” in Marathon and Big Pine Key.

Many small groups and individuals have made trips over past months to haul donated items and to help with work in the Keys.  Just one of those is the trip by the Brothers Group which worked for a day and hosted a free Sunday breakfast for 60 St. Columba church members.

FUTURE GROUP WORK TRIPS dates available for debris removal workers and for skilled and licensed trades people are:
December 8, 9, 10
January 19, 20, 21
February 16, 17, 18
Maralee Pope can provide more information. 

The Episcopal homeless shelter, Independence Cay. which was destroyed by Irma was rebuilt entirely by the use of gift cards donated by people of our diocese including the members of St Gregory’s Altar Guild. Refurbished refrigerator, washer, and dryer donated by Brian Swartz, one of our volunteer Keys truck drivers from Boca, completed bringing the shelter back into full operation.

St. Columba of Marathon, which is an 11-year turnaround from failure to success role model, leads the Episcopal Diocese’s Nehemiah program to help strengthen our smaller and financially weak churches. The big question all the Nehemiah program churches work to answer affirmatively is “If all our members went into our church and closed the doors permanently, who would cry for us over that loss?” The answer that St. Gregory’s has earned through our support of this Keys Recovery work, is that the people and our sister churches in the Keys, and those others to whom we serve as a beacon of leadership in this generous outpouring of love, would certainly cry for the loss of St. Gregory’s.  Thank you for all you are doing to alleviate suffering, and by doing so, to make our own church stronger and better.