By JB Brayfindley
"We all recognize the disaster at the U.S.- Mexican border," said Doug Treadwell, chair of the Reconciling and Social Justice Committee at First United Methodist Church in Sacramento. In response, his committee assisted more than 60 people from various organizations to come together on Saturday, August 3 for a hygiene kit assembly party at First UMC.
"Through the generosity of Sacramento area United Methodists, Placer Women Dems, RATT Pack, Indivisible Sacramento, NorCAL Resist, and Abuelas Responden, the team was able to assemble 750 kits. Each kit cost about $12, plus $650 for shipping – putting the total amount raised [to] over $9,600."
Treadwell said the extra supplies will be given to El Dorado County Federated Church in Placerville, which will host a future event. (If interested contact Pastor Andrew Headden at 530-622-0273.)
The finished kits are on their way to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) West Depot, the Salt Lake City distribution center, from which they will be distributed as needed to the border. UMCOR West sorts the kits into pallets of 672 units. Kits are currently being sent to the California and Texas borders. Most recent shipments included five to six pallets to the Texas border.
Regardless of how desperate the situation is and need for these kits, UMCOR cannot take them directly into the U.S. government-run holding camps. However, the agency is distributing the kits at transition centers along the U.S.- Mexican border.
Each kit contains a hand towel, wash cloth, soap bar, toothbrush, comb, fingernail clippers, and adhesive bandages.
After the spring flooding in the Midwest, UMCOR West associate director Brian Diggs said, UMCOR has refocused efforts to provide hygiene kits for its Border Ministry and school kits to reservations for its Native American Ministry. The operation continues to look for volunteers and churches to replenish its relief supply inventory by volunteering onsite or shipping items to the depot.
In March 2019, UMCOR West shipped 3,600 hygiene kits and 100 school kits to Las Cruces, NM, and 2,344 hygiene kits and 672 school kits to San Diego, CA. In June of this year 6,720 hygiene kits, 900 cleaning buckets, and 4,368 school kits were sent to South Dakota for Native American ministries. In July, 672 hygiene kits and 336 school kits were sent to Calexico, CA.
For more information contact Brian Diggs at 801-973-7250, Bdiggs@UMCOR.org, or through https://www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies/Relief-Supply-Network/Relief-Supply-Network.
Sonja Edd-Bennett, who has served as the California-Nevada Conference's director of Disaster Response since January 2018, reports that she also needs to build local inventory of disaster relief supplies – especially fire buckets and other kits – in preparation for disasters here at home. Having inventory on hand saves money and expedites delivery.
To help, contact her at SonjaEB@calnevumc.org or 916-374-1525. Visit the conference disaster response website (Click on Disaster Response on the right side of the cnumc.org home page or go to Resources, Local Church Resources, Disaster Response.)