God’s Pit Crew: There when disaster strikes

Pulaski Church of God is a permanent drop off site for donations to God’s Pit Crew Blessing Buckets program.  Items such as bottled water and hygiene products are welcome.  Individuals will have an opportunity to donate directly to the Blessing Bucket program this weekend by visiting collection sites at Walmart in Dublin or Dollar Tree in Pulaski on Memorial Drive between the hours of 11:00am to 7:00pm.  God’s Pit Crew Volunteers from left to right are:  Karen Phibbs, Bea Ogle, Tish Fox and Stacy Tuck.

 

NASCAR is a big deal in Virginia. So, most people know that a pit crew is a group of people who work together efficiently and in harmony to repair and refuel their race car during a pit stop; and get it back on the road ASAP.  In order to do that, the expert pit crew must have all equipment and supplies ready and waiting before the pit stop is made.

God’s Pit Crew, headquartered in Danville, has a similar goal … to have volunteers, equipment and supplies ready and waiting to help people get back onto the road of life after being sidetracked due to a natural disaster or man-made crisis.

God’s Pit Crew is a non-profit, faith-based crisis response team of over 400 volunteers who wish to serve others in their time of need.  Their mission is delivering hope, healing and restoration to hurting people in times of crisis through the love of God.  Since 1999, they have responded to 114 major disasters in 27 states and 13 countries and have built and furnished more than 45 homes and freely donated them to families in need, as well as renovated dozens of churches and children’s homes. They have also distributed more than 200 million pounds of relief supplies to individuals and agencies.

To accomplish this goal, God’s Pit Crew volunteers rely on donations of supplies and funds to ensure they are ready to help when a crisis hits.  One of their mainstays of the effort is the Blessing Bucket, a 5–gallon pail filled with life sustaining essentials to immediately help those in crisis.  There are three different types of Blessing Buckets: one for Disaster Relief – containing 24 items including snacks and water, personal hygiene, miscellaneous (flashlight, paper products, sanitizer) and encouragement (Bible placed on the top of all the other items for them to see first, with a personal note of encouragement).

Another is an International Bucket with humanitarian aid; and the third is an Emergency Bucket for a school crisis.

Julie Burnett, God’s Pit Crew Blessing Bucket Program Director, recalls how the churches used to make up buckets and distribute them after a natural disaster.

“God put it on my heart six years ago and gave me a vision in partnership with God’s Pit Crew to do multi-city drives to get enough supplies to fill 5,000 buckets,” said Burnett.  “The very next week, the floods in South Carolina hit and all 5,000 buckets were gone in one week.  Last year, we gave out 22,000 Blessing Buckets and could have given more, but that was all we had.  This year we want to have more buckets on hand to help more people.

“I have gone to disaster sites and it is pretty overwhelming.  You just can’t describe it.  Your heart breaks with the people there just to see the ‘what just happened kind of stares’ over what happened to their life,” Burnett explains.

God’s Pit Crew just returned from volunteering and distributing Blessing Buckets to people affected by the flooding in Ohio, Arkansas and West Virginia.  They had 3,000 buckets but they are all gone.  “We are critically short of Blessing Buckets. We’ve distributed 6,000 so far this year and we like to have at least 5,000 on hand.  The hurricane season hasn’t started, and we are needing lots more buckets,” Burnett stated.

“Our annual Blessing Bucket drive, held in conjunction with SpiritFM radio, is this Friday, June 21st and Saturday, June 22nd.  There are 12-different collection locations in 10-different cities; but locally, God’s Pit Crew will be stationed at Pulaski Dollar Tree on Memorial Drive and at Walmart in Dublin.  God’s Pit Crew volunteers will be stationed at these sites from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.  Additionally, Faith Ryders from Grace Ministries will be doing a benefit ride for children in the area and will make a pit stop and bring donations between 11:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. at the Walmart in Dublin.

Stacy Tuck of Tuck’s Collision in Pulaski is the Coordinator for the God’s Pit Crew Blessing Bucket program in this region.  Although she had been donating to God’s Pit Crew since 2000, it wasn’t until after the Pulaski tornado hit in 2011 that she became much more active and involved with the ministry.  She was drawn to the Blessing Bucket program realizing that after a disaster like that, when all your stuff is gone, you need some items to sustain you.

“Blessing Buckets are a symbol of hope and a lifeline for many people in their time of despair after a natural disaster has turned their world upside-down,” remarks Tuck.

“What a blessing it is to volunteer and share how God’s Pit Crew jumped in and took care of our community.  My family has never had to experience devastation, yet our town and county has.  I saw what God’s Pit Crew did here and across the nation. I fully believe in them.  Not only do they build and restore homes, they bring hope.  And, they are prayer warriors,” says Tuck.

Through a comment from a young teen, Tuck realized there was a need for another type of Blessing Bucket.  After much prayer, she suggested the Play Pail to the leadership at God’s Pit Crew, and they also recognized the need.   Included in the 3-1/2 gallon Play Pail are items of comfort for kids, like a snuggly blanket, stuffed toy/animal, coloring book and crayons – to keep the kids comfortable and occupied while their parents deal with the chaos and attempt to put a roof over their heads again.

Everyone can help this weekend by donating items or making a monetary donation at the local collection sites of Walmart in Dublin and Dollar Tree in Pulaski.  Monetary donations are very helpful because God’s Pit Crew still must buy the actual buckets and pay for the shipping costs.  In addition, they can buy in bulk and tax free; therefore, buying much more than an individual can purchase.

“God’s Pit Crew has been in business for 20 years helping people after a crisis.  In this day lots of people are leery of where to give money.  I’m proud to say that our administration cost is less than 2 percent.  That means 98 percent of monetary donations go directly to the cause.  We are in the mission to love on people in the name of God and to help people.  It takes people giving; volunteers going out and helping; your heart will be moved to see what God is doing through God’s Pit Crew and the Blessing Bucket program,” remarks Burnett.

For those wishing to spread HOPE with year-round giving before the storm hits, Pulaski Church of God is a drop off site for donations such as bottled water and hygiene products.  God’s Pit Crew is accepting donations of items as well as monetary donations.  Individuals, churches or groups can sponsor a Blessing Bucket with a monetary donation of $35.  If sending a check, make sure to designate Blessing Bucket in the memo line.

Monthly donations can be made by going to the God’s Pit Crew website:  https://www.godspitcrew.org/donate-2/

For more information about the Blessing Buckets go to:  www.blessingbuckets.org