Churches across Iowa sent more than 40 volunteers to the UMCOR Sager Brown Depot to unload relief-supply kits assembled across the state.
By Susan Kim*
December 3, 2013—United Methodist churches across Iowa, in an annual tradition called “Ingathering,” assemble thousands of UMCOR relief-supply kits, and then send volunteers to the UMCOR Sager Brown Depot to help unload and store the supplies.
“During ‘Ingathering,’ one small donation may take many roads to a single destination,” explained Cynthia Root, a United Methodist church member who wrote on behalf of churches across the state.
“At the Iowa Ingathering, we see the result of many faith journeys traveled by many items destined for global distribution,” she said. “Whether it is a five-gallon bucket, a pair of scissors, or a toothbrush, the items move through many loving hands on their journey.”
Some churches collect items via baskets in the vestibule. Other churches take special offerings, and then individual members purchase items out of which the kits are assembled.
“Some of our churches have sewing rooms set up to make book bags or baby items,” explained Root.
A few years ago, another church held an 'UMCOR baby shower,' complete with food and games. The “gifts” were items for layette and birthing kits.
For 2014, other churches are planning a “Health Fair,” during which information about healthy living will be distributed as participants donate items for health kits.
“United Methodist churches in Iowa have set a fine example of appropriate donations that genuinely help disaster survivors,” said Kathy Kraiza, UMCOR's executive director for relief supplies.
During the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and the tornadoes in the midwestern United States, Kraiza has received many calls from donors who have items they want to give to UMCOR depots.
Yet because many of these items – particularly clothing and perishable food – aren't part of any relief-supply kit, UMCOR can't just ship them out in bulk and hope they get to the hands of disaster survivors, Kraiza explained.
“The relief-supply kit system works because we have people on the ground who gives us the information on what's needed. If we collect things without a connection on the ground, it clogs those supply lines. Each disaster is such a different situation,” said Kraiza.
“The items in UMCOR's relief-supply kits have been carefully selected because they help disaster survivors in nearly any situation,” agreed Greg Forrester, UMCOR's US Disaster Response executive. “As an example, there is a reason that layette kits are always in demand— we know that children are going to be born; with our material items, we stick with what we know can be used.”
Both Kraiza and Forrester urged donors to follow Iowa's example and stick with what they know will be used as well. “It's just crucial,” said Forrester. “When we collect correctly, we can have an amazing impact.”
Monetary donations and relief-supply kits are the best ways to help disaster survivors – now and in the future. Please give to US Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance #901670.
*Susan Kim is a journalist and a regular contributor to umcor.org.
If you support this project on Giving Tuesday, December 3, Global Ministries will allocate the “matching funds” dollar for dollar up to the first $500,000 in gifts to Advance projects received online on December 3, 2013, between 12:00 a.m. EST and 11:59 p.m. A maximum of $10,000 per individual gift to a project will be dispersed as matching funds. A project may receive a maximum of $50,000 in matching funds.