The money Blanco County residents donated last week for Superstorm Sandy is already in the hands of the survivors, and most likely has been spent by now.
As the huge storm passed its two-week anniversary, news stories turned from rescue and aid to the people not yet helped, and donations that haven't yet reached recipients.
Not a problem with Blanco County's relief.
Money given by individuals and churches came together at the First United Methodist Church in Johnson City, where they were turned into gift cards and sent by overnight express to New Jersey and the survivors who needed them, in some cases less than a week after the donation check was written.
"This is such a fast, direct way to get help to the survivors," said the Reverend Ken Greene of Blanco United Methodist Church, "because we not only shorten the delivery chain, we also can track our donations moving through every step on the way."
Greene's church is one of several participating in the first week of the relief drive. Money collected at his church was in Johnson City within a couple of days, and by the end of the week was combined with others' gifts into a $1,000 bundle of cards on its way to the northeast.
Once there, the cards were delivered to the Reverend Paul Maliel, the District Superintendent for the Methodist churches in the hardest-hit area of southern New Jersey, where Sandy made landfall. He was selected as the recipient because he would know who really needed the help better than anyone in Texas.
A surprise donation came from Johnson City Bank, which waived the card initiation fees, allowing that money to fund more cards to send to New Jersey.
"Response to this campaign has been gratifying," said the Reverend Lee Romero of First UMC Johnson City.
"We started this as an experiment, an alternative to just collecting dollars and sending them off to an agency. As valuable as those agencies are, even church agencies, there's something satisfying about knowing that your own gift is only one or two steps away from where it needs to be, and in being able to watch it travel and be delivered."
To donate or for more information, call Angie at 830-868-7414.