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Churches of Staten Island outshine federal relief efforts

NEW YORK /Christian Newswire Evangelical congregations on storm-damaged Staten Island are outshining federal agencies in the arduous task of helping residents recover from the devastating effects of super storm Sandy. Almost immediately after the weather abated, Staten Island evangelical clergy organized and began deploying aid. The same response from federal agencies took days and are still woefully inadequate to the recovery effort.

The Reverend Tim Mercaldo and his father, the Reverend Dr. Dan Mercaldo, pastors of Church at the Gateway, one of the largest evangelical churches on Staten Island, have transformed their church’s facility into a major hub for equipment, volunteers, and supplies being marshaled in the aftermath of the storm.

“It’s astounding what the Mercaldos and their congregation have accomplished in such a short period of time,” said the Reverend Dr. Rob Schenck, chairman of the Evangelical Church Alliance, who last week toured the most heavily affected areas of Staten Island with Tim Mercaldo. “Church at the Gateway has done more with its very limited resources than the federal agencies have done with billion-dollar budgets. This one church has been absolutely heroic.”

While truckloads of donated food, water, and winter clothing are offloaded into Gateway’s yet unfinished sanctuary, dozens of volunteer workers from around the country are sleeping in Sunday school rooms and being fed out of the church’s commercial kitchen. Outside in the church’s parking lot, heavy equipment and RVs jockey for position. Tim Mercaldo tools around the island daily in a church pickup transporting urgently needed items to distribution centers set up at other evangelical churches.

“This is way too big of a job for the churches of Staten Island to do alone,” Rev. Mercaldo said. “More and more churches around the country are getting on board with help and its’ all needed. The federal agencies are doing what they can, but it’s falling to the churches to do the heavy stuff. Churches were the first on the scene and are now doing most of the work.”

Church at the Gateway is asking for churches to partner with them in a race against time because of threatening winter weather. Financial contributions can be made online at www.churchatthegateway.org or by mail to Church at the Gateway, Sandy Relief, 200 Boscombe Ave., Staten Island, NY 10309.

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