Lending Disaster Victims a Helping Hand
November 4, 2017
Written By Adam Buckallew
Kent Kunkel got his first taste of disaster relief when he traveled with volunteers from his church to help the victims of the catastrophic tornado that ripped through the city of Joplin, Mo., in 2011.
“That type of experience makes you appreciate what’s really important in life,” Kunkel says. “It gets in your blood and has motivated us to find ways to keep helping people.”
Kunkel and fellow members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Concordia, Mo., were so inspired by their trip to Joplin that they have acquired a disaster response trailer stocked with equipment to provide essential aid during times of emergencies.
The church purchased the trailer with the help of grants from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s Office of National Mission Disaster Response, the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League and the MFA Oil Foundation.
“We are so grateful to the MFA Oil Foundation for its contribution to our efforts,” says Kunkel, who coordinates his congregation’s disaster relief team. “The grant we received helped to purchase chainsaws, pole saws, safety gear, radios, a wheelbarrow and a propane-powered generator.”
The trailer has already been dispatched to the Missouri communities of Oak Grove, Odessa and Smithville in response to a series of tornadoes that struck on March 6, 2017. The storms damaged hundreds of homes in the region.
“We do what we can to help people in their time of need,” Kunkel says. “We’re not an immediate response crew – we let the professionals go first, and we also need the permission of the homeowners – but we can lend people a hand when their community is overwhelmed with cleanup efforts.”
The volunteers who work with the church’s disaster response trailer are required to participate in a Lutheran Early Response Training class. The St. Paul’s congregation has already held two classes where volunteers undergo a full day’s worth of training on safety do’s and don’ts, how to work through stressful situations and the call to serve.
“We have quite a few MFA Oil farmer-members who are on our disaster relief team,” Kunkel says. “When we respond to a call for help, we usually send about 12 volunteers with the trailer. This has been a great way for our congregation to band together and help others.”
The MFA Oil Foundation regularly provides grants to support nonprofit organizations in communities where MFA Oil has a significant concentration of members and employees. The grants are primarily funded by pre-tax, non-member income. The foundation awarded more than $290,000 in grants to 81 organizations during MFA Oil’s 2016 fiscal year. More information about the MFA Oil Foundation, program guidelines, eligibility and grant applications can be found at mfaoil.com/foundation.