Lutheran Disaster Response hired George Strunk to coordinate volunteers and lead the continuing flood recovery in eastern North Carolina, drenched by three hurricanes last fall. To volunteer, call Strunk at (888) 336-4250. Send donations to ELCA Domestic Disaster Response — "Hurricanes," Box 71764, Chicago, IL 60694-1864. Meanwhile, Disaster Response is also helping several hundred low-income families who lost homes to wildfires in northern Californa in October. The ELCA pledged $50,000 to support the Lutheran World Federation Department for World Service's work in Liberia, where civil war has killed some 200,000 people and displaced nearly 2 million. LWF will provide food for 172,000 people and will distribute school supplies, tools and agricultural equipment. ELCA members also contributed $100,000 for relief efforts in Eritrea, where fighting along the Eritrea and Ethiopia border has left tens of thousands of people displaced. The quilt that brought the most money at a benefit auction in Strawberry Point, Iowa, was the one that wasn't even there. Donated by St. Paul Lutheran Church, Waverly, Iowa, the quilt was stolen while on display to advertise the benefit for Ewalu Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center. Dale Goodman, Ewalu's director, wanted to find a way to honor the work put into making the quilt. It was decided to auction the stolen quilt in six imaginary parts. After saying a prayer for the quilt's thief, frenzied bidders gave nearly $3,000 for the missing pieces, helping bring the total raised to $30,668. USA Today named Luther Place, Washington, D.C., as one of the 10 great places to worship on Christmas Eve. Luther Place was noted for its "strong program of social services that attracts everyone from the humblest beggar to the person who would give succor." Caroling members of St. John Lutheran Church, Mohnton, Pa., cover a lot of ground each Christmas season. More than 50 singers load into a tractor-pulled hay wagon each year spreading joy and Christmas songs to the community. Four Lutheran churches in Moreno Valley, Calif. — Eden, Trinity, Hope and Lord of Life — united to give Christmas gifts to all 750 students at nearby Edgemont Elementary School. Youth wrapped, sorted and distributed the gifts to students. Lutheran Brotherhood helped with funding. The ELCA, along with the United Church of Canada, produced Playing in the Light: Our Changing Faith, a TV documentary featuring younger generations discussing faith issues. The program, created on behalf of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., "takes a serious look at some of the personal and spiritual issues for the next millennium," said John Peterson, ELCA director for public media. Playing in the Light is offered to NBC affiliates. More than 500 Lutherans gathered at Pioneer Square in Portland, Ore. to show they were "In the City for Good," a churchwide initiative to help urban churches focus on transforming lives, congregations and communities. They raised $8,000 for agencies that care for the homeless, young people in crisis and the hungry. California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, along with three area schools, received more than $1 million in federal grants. The money, awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, is part of $135 million allocated to train 400,000 new teachers to use technology in classrooms.
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