Local church going the distance for tornado victims

JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Members of Harbor Light Baptist Church are collecting supplies to drive more than 600 miles north and hand-deliver to people in what's left of Henryville, Indiana.

"Many of them lost everything," said Harbor Light pastor Keith Burgess. "Literally everything they have."

Burgess believes in giving but his ties to the town of less than 2,000 people go much deeper. For three years he was a minister in Henryville. His daughter Marie Perry graduated from Henryville high school in 2003. And many of the families friends are still back in Indiana.

Burgess says watching the tornado level homes, take away cars and destroy the town's only school took a toll on him.

"It just hits you in the stomach," said Burgess. "You just wonder what kind of damage is going on and who might be hurt. I just began to pray and as a Christian I knew I had to do something even at that moment."

With the help of Marie, who originally brought the idea to him, the congregation and the church's mascot Harby, Harbor Light started taking donations.

The church is looking for everything from bottled water to toilet paper, laundry detergent to towels.

"It's more of your everyday items that you need that you use on an everyday basis," said Perry, who says even small items are bound to make big differences.

"People have been absolutely amazing from day one I was getting donations."

Perry, her father and other church volunteers will leave before the sun rises Friday morning to bring the donations to the people who need them most in Henryville and try to pick up their faith in any way they can.

"I'm really nervous but I know we're going up there for a good cause and I'm ready to take it head on," said Perry. "I'm going to do what I can do for all the victims."

To donate, just stop by Harbor Light Church at 1300 Fort Johnson Road on James Island. Time to donate will run out at sundown Thursday so a truck can be packed and gassed up for the trip to the Hoosier State.

Copyright WCSC 2012.  All rights reserved.