When disaster survivors receive a cleaning bucket, they also receive a feeling of hope.
By Susan Kim*
June 4, 2013–The Relief-Supply Network of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is making an urgent call for relief-supply kits to deliver into the hands of disaster survivors.
In the wake of spring tornadoes—including the tragic twister in Moore, Oklahoma, and tornadoes that damaged hundreds of homes in Texas—relief-supply kits have been delivered at a rapid rate, said Kathy Kraiza, executive director of UMCOR’s Material Resources Ministry.
“We're just dealing with US disasters one on top of the other, in addition to international shipments to countries such as Lebanon and Syria, as well as other locations,” she said.
“We're just asking for any of the kits because we're low on all our supplies right now. If we had more, we'd send them out,” Kraiza said.
Last year, the UMCOR Relief-Supply Network shipped more than $6 million worth of goods and materials to people in need worldwide. Nearly $2 million worth of goods went to 18 different US states. This year, the numbers already indicate even more materials will be distributed.
When disaster survivors receive a relief-supply kit, they often receive much more than simple supplies—they receive a significant measure of hope, pointed out Greg Forrester, UMCOR’s assistant general secretary for US Disaster Response.
Forrester recalled responding to a flood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “There was a church distributing cleaning buckets, and that church was also set up to offer people something to eat and drink.”
Before long, Forrester noticed that people were indeed coming in to get buckets—but really lingering under the canopy set up for food and fellowship. “People were coming in for cleaning buckets, but they were also coming in for a conversation,” he said. “It ended up being a great way for that church to check on the mental health and spiritual well-being of the flood survivors.”
UMCOR not only distributes relief-supply kits directly through United Methodist churches but through partner organizations within the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster as well.
There are many ways you can help. You can assemble kits with your local congregation or community and send them to any of the depots in the UMCOR Relief-Supply Network. Or you can volunteer to assemble and inspect kits at UMCOR Sager Brown Depot or UMCOR West Office and Depot.
Your gift to Material Resources Ministry, UMCOR Advance #901440, will help purchase supplies and replenish stocks of kits. You can also give to Contain Your Joy, UMCOR Advance #982730, to support shipments of kits to people in need.
*Susan Kim is a journalist and a regular contributor to www.umcor.org.