As people continue to struggle in the current pandemic-plagued U.S. economy, members of one New Orleans-area church decided to find a practical way to help their neighbors — they engaged in a campaign to raise money to help pay their neighbors' electricity bills.
And it was no small effort.
The nondenominational Household of Faith Family Worship Church International, which has three locations in Harvey, Louisiana, just across the Mississippi River from the Crescent City, helped raise $125,000 for the cause, the Christian Post reported.
When asked why the church did this, Dale Barriere, the wife of Senior Pastor Antoine Barriere, told the Post they launched the campaign "because God said so."
According to the Post, the efforts helped pay bills for customers of energy company Entergy, which partnered with the church to meet residents' needs.
For Dale Barriere, this was an answer to prayer.
"Our prayer was how can we help those who are hurting and He said $100 towards Entergy bill," she told the outlet. "Our hope is to encourage the community to never give up and when you think there's no help, out of the blue help steps in."
Barriere explained to the Post that the church first raised $50,000, and then Entergy matched their donation. According the church, members of the congregation and businesses then added another $25,000, bringing the total to $125,000.
People were having trouble paying their bills not just because of higher unemployment in the downturned economy, Entergy said. The company also said that the cold weather, coupled with the pandemic that has forced more people to stay home, has led to higher electricity usage — and therefore higher bills.
"We had colder weather, so people were using heat more. We had an end of holiday period where people were not traveling normally," Entergy New Orleans CEO David Ellis told Nola.com. "What those point to is higher consumption."