|They're on the Way!
6,000 kits dispatched to Africa
by Annette Bender
Cornmeal. Aspirin. Pencils. Bath soap. When Holston churches collect supplies for missions in Africa, what happens to the goods after they're delivered to district drop-off points?
Conference mission leaders have developed a relay system involving several volunteers, with the ultimate goal of getting the supplies to Africa as soon as possible. This year, Holston churches collected more kits than ever before - more than 6,000 - requiring volunteers to scramble to get the supplies ready for shipping, according to Missions Coordinator Bill Daugherty.
But don't worry. The cornmeal, aspirin and soap are now enroute and expected to arrive in Liberia by mid-July and in Zimbabwe by early August, Daugherty said.
"It's quite an operation," he said. "This year we had more than 6,000 units and that is almost phenomenal. A lot of folks deserve tremendous thanks for making it happen."
Every spring in Holston's hands-on mission project, churches in each district are assigned specific supplies to collect before Annual Conference in June. For example, Knoxville and Oak Ridge Districts collected food buckets for Ishe Anesu in Zimbabwe. Tazewell and Wytheville Districts collected school supplies for needy students in Liberia.
This year, churches far exceeded goals set by the conference, collecting 1,222 food buckets (goal: 600), 2,594 medical kits (goal: 1,450), and 1,229 school kits (goal: 800), among other provisions.
After churches drop off their supplies at designated locations within their districts, volunteers get them ready for the long journey - first to Annual Conference in Lake Junaluska, N.C., where the kits are blessed, and then out of the country, onto a ship toward Africa.
The Rev. C.W. Huff started the relay during the week of June 7 by collecting kits in Wytheville and Tazewell Districts and transporting them to Abingdon District.
From Abingdon, supplies from three districts were trucked to First Broad Street United Methodist Church in Kingsport, Tenn., where kits from Big Stone Gap, Kingsport and Johnson City Districts had already arrived.
Sue Ann Greene, Kingsport District missions secretary, supervised the First Broad Street collection and interacted with some of the church groups dropping off their supplies.
"It always amazes me, the response of smaller-member congregations," she said. "They really enjoy and like to participate in this project. It's something they can manage, even though their budgets are small. It makes them feel like they can make a difference."
Boxes donated by a local moving company were helpful to the 16 volunteers at First Broad Street who packed the kits on June 9 and 10, Greene said. When a big truck arrived on June 11 to shift the supplies to a new location, the boxes made it possible for volunteers to neatly and quickly load the truck in about 35 minutes.
When kits from the northern districts arrived at Fairview UMC in Maryville District, they were united with thousands of kits from other districts. A giant collection in Knoxville District had been assembled at Washington Pike UMC, before being routed through Oak Ridge District and then to Fairview. Fairview. Morristown District sent their kits to Fairview in a rental truck. Another truck came to Fairview with supplies from Chattanooga and Cleveland Districts.
At Fairview on June 12, "an army" of about 75 volunteers loaded all 6,000 kits onto ocean carriers, Daugherty said. Zimbabwe missionaries Bill and Maria Humbane, who were visiting Maryville at the time, later told the Annual Conference about witnessing the hot and sweaty work of Fairview volunteers.
"We had no idea what you go through," Bill Humbane said on June 15.
"We thank God because you make a difference for these children," Maria Humbane said.
After the Annual Conference's send-off of the trucks on June 14, the supplies were immediately dispatched to Newport News, Va., where they were loaded on a ship on June 15.
6,000 Kits Dispatched to Africa
Safe Sanctuaries Resolution
National & World News
Back to The Call Home Page