FUND-RAISER Churches collect for poverty-prone nations

The fund-raiser at Ponderosa in Warren runs through August.
CORTLAND -- Eight Cortland, Bazetta, Mecca and Howland churches are working together to collect humanitarian aid for relief efforts worldwide.
The churches are known as LOAF -- Lakeview Outreach and Fellowship. They have incorporated Cortland Humanitarian Outreach Worldwide, or CHOW -- a nonprofit, nondenominational religious organization.
Centered at Bazetta Christian Church, 4131 Bazetta Road, the other participants are Cortland Christian Church, Mecca Community Church, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Cortland Church of the Nazarene, Cortland United Methodist Church, Harvest Christian Assembly Church and St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church.
CHOW has storage trailers on state Route 5 and a warehouse in Cortland. "We've been around but the awareness isn't where it needs to be," said volunteer Theresa Hutton, a member of Bazetta Christian Church.
Desk donation
"Right now we have a shipment of 400 desks. A lot of them have come from our area schools," she said. "These come out of Niles schools, McDonald schools, Newton Falls, Maplewood and Champion."
The school furniture becomes available as districts upgrade and choose whether to sell, donate or throw away.
This particular batch of desks is destined for Guatemala later this month. The shipment will be CHOW's 15th; more than 2,000 desks have been shipped so far.
"We saved them from area landfills. Understand that, if those desks were needed in our area, anyone can have them," she said.
Charitable organizations in the United States such as CHOW have benefited by an act of Congress known as the Denton Amendment, which permits humanitarian aid to be carried by military, air, sea and land transport on space available, anywhere in the world, for free.
These local churches see a two-fold problem that needs addressing: An unequal distribution of goods and resources resulting in poverty in some areas of the world and wastefulness in others; and new and like-new materials from hospitals, industries, schools and individuals being sent to landfills.
Trash vs. treasure
One society's unused and discarded materials can be useful to poor families and children not only in the Cortland community and United States, but worldwide. These items include surplus medical supplies, working medical equipment, clothing, blankets, books, school supplies and equipment, toys, sport equipment, food products and cooking utensils.
This month, CHOW is teamed with Ponderosa Steakhouse on Elm Road in Warren for its second annual fund-raising event with the restaurant. People who order at the register can tell the cashier they'd like to donate 10 percent of their meal charge (before tax) to CHOW.
Steakhouse employees will be wearing T-shirts that say "10 percent for CHOW."
For more information or to reach CHOW, Hutton advises calling one of the eight LOAF churches.

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