About 100 women of all faiths joined together to assemble birthing kits for UMCOR last summer.
Cynthia McNeal Plater
By Michelle Scott Okabayashi*
March 7, 2013—More than $6 million in relief supplies were sent to disaster survivors in 18 countries and 18 US states in 2012 alone, through the Relief-Supply Network of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
Every year, United Methodists and other people of goodwill come together to assemble, deliver, and ship the many thousands of kits that give people in crisis basic supplies and a reminder that someone cares for them.
But these supplies could not be delivered so effectively if it weren’t for generous gifts to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
“One Great Hour of Sharing makes that happen by underwriting the administrative costs that support the operations to facilitate the receipt, processing, and shipping of relief donations,” says Kathy Kraiza, executive director of UMCOR’s Material Resource Ministry.
The offering, typically celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent (March 10 of this year), helps UMCOR meet its costs of doing business so that 100 percent of designated donations—to material resources, disaster response, or health and development programs—can go to the specific project they are earmarked for.
The ministry of relief supplies extends far beyond the kits themselves. In Uganda, impoverished women who give birth at Kilembe Mines Hospital can take their children home with a set of proper clothes, instead of a bed sheet or some other makeshift clothing thanks to the layette kits that were generously assembled and sent from United Methodists and others in the United States.
The layette kits mean that “the mothers can leave the hospital with their babies dressed warmly and well, no matter how poor they might be,” explains Tanya Weaver of the American Foundation for Children with AIDS in Africa (AFCA), an UMCOR partner in Uganda.
The blessing of relief supplies extends beyond the recipients and touches those who prepare and ship them as well. Three families from Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson, Mississippi, came to volunteer at the UMCOR Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, Louisiana, last year. Among them were 10 children between the ages of five and 10. The parents wanted to spend a week of summer vacation exposing their children to mission. Ultimately, they wanted their children to know that their contributions, no matter how large or small, could make a difference in our world.
Just the same, your contributions to relief supplies, community efforts, and special offerings like One Great Hour of Sharing, make a difference, no matter how much you are able to give. One Great Hour of Sharing is this Sunday, March 10. It can also be celebrated at any time of the year, and you can always give to One Great Hour of Sharing online.
*Michelle Scott Okabayashi is a writer and a regular contributor to www.umcor.org.