Ongoing: Holston will continue to help tornado-stricken neighbors

Ongoing: Holston will continue to help tornado-stricken neighbors

Most needed now are Hygiene Kits, Cleaning Kits, and financial donations, according to Holston mission leaders.

Some Holston members responded quickly after March 2-3 tornadoes destroyed parts of middle Tennessee. Others are responding now to a call for relief supplies, which Holston Conference mission leaders will collect and distribute.

Twenty-four people were killed across four counties (Putnam, Wilson, Davidson, Benton) after storms moved through the state, shredding buildings and toppling power lines.

Holly Roe said she was inspired to reach out to Cookeville residents after learning that her own family and friends were safe while others had lost their lives or homes or were critically injured.

“The tornados hit on Tuesday, March 3, and we were already headed toward Cookeville on the morning of Thursday, March 5, with 155 relief buckets, over 100 cinnamon rolls and over 100 tarps in a trailer provided by Holston camping,” said Roe.

Roe worked through her bakery business, Cinnaholic, along with Fairview United Methodist Church, Cokesbury United Methodist Church, and the Holston Conference main office to provide critical supplies to Cookeville Community Center.

Read Holly Roe's story.

On March 9, volunteers from Cokesbury United Church of Knoxville loaded two pick-up trucks with tarps and trash bags, delivering them to Putnam County.

Also on March 9, Fairview United Methodist Church of Maryville delivered a load of canned food, diapers, baby clothes, and hygiene items requested by Putnam County officials.

“We were going to take a work team, but they were turning teams away,” said Jimmy Manis, family and missions minister. Instead, Fairview circulated a list of needed items for church members to take to Sunday worship.

“We have a generous and willing congregation. It’s been ingrained in them for some time,” Manis said. “We’ll be taking a team later, at the beginning of April.”

On March 13, Emory United Methodist Church of Kingsport traveled to Nashville to deliver supplies purchased with donations from the congregation.
Emory UMC delivers to Nashville.

“They were delivered to a community center in North Nashville, an area hard hit and a community that already has many needs,” Emory’s Facebook page announced.


Relief kits needed

Holston Conference mission leaders are urging churches to continue to assemble relief kits to supply tornado survivors or to replace those already delivered.

Hygiene Kits are even more important than Cleaning Kits, said the Rev. Mike Sluder, director of connectional ministries.  

“We are continuing to push Hygiene Kits,” he said. “With tornado damage, the cleaning buckets are not as critical as hygiene kits.”

Hygiene Kits include washcloths, soap, toothbrushes, bandages and other personal items. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) provides detailed instructions for assembling.

Cleaning Kits include detergent, air freshener, trash bags, work gloves and other disaster-response items.  Cleaning Kits (or “cleaning buckets”) are needed to replenish Holston’s stockpile for future disasters.

Contact your district office for drop-off hours and location. Holston mission leaders will work with district offices to coordinate pick-up, Sluder said.


Districts respond

The Hiwassee District office received 150 Hygiene Kits from First Cleveland United Methodist Church this week, according to Stacy Underdown, administrative assistant.

“I think many of our churches are planning to bring kits and buckets in the next couple of weeks,” Underdown said.

The Tennessee Valley District office will receive Cleaning Kits and Hygiene Kits from churches on Wednesday, March 25, and Thursday, March 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Monday, March 30, from 10 a.m. to noon, according to Mary Hawkins, administrative assistant.

The Scenic South District is directing its churches to deliver relief kits to Signal Crest United Methodist Church (by March 16), Trenton United Methodist Church, or to Cokesbury United Methodist Church in Knoxville (by March 24), according to Melissa Spiers, administrative assistant.

Betty Yeomans-Barton, administrative assistant for Three Rivers District, said Wednesday that relief kits had not yet been delivered to her office, "but I know that some of our churches are working on them."

The coronavirus pandemic may deter some volunteers from delivering supplies or slow their progress in assembling mission kits, district staff members said.

"I had a couple of folks contact me because they could not find the N95 face masks, so I ordered 100 from Amazon to fill in where kits are missing those," said Yeomans-Barton.

Church members and volunteers should use caution and discretion before coming into contact with others, Holston leaders said. Bishop Dindy Taylor has mandated cancellation of worship services and meetings of church services throughout Holston for two weeks, effective March 12. 

No work teams yet

Church leaders are urged not to send work teams to tornado-stricken areas until the Tennessee Conference or Holston Conference call for them, said Jim Fetzer, Holston’s disaster-response coordinator.

The Tennessee Conference has been overwhelmed with “thousands of untrained volunteers,” which hampers more than helps, Fetzer said.

“We are waiting until such time as it is necessary for Early Response Teams to be requested,” he said. “In the meantime, please continue to put together cleaning buckets and hygiene kits for all disasters.”

Church members are also requested to give financially.
  In the Appalachian District, McClure United Methodist Church has issued a challenge for other United Methodist congregations to give $250 per congregation to UMCOR or the Tennessee Conference.

See also:
Retired pastor's home lost to tornado (UM News, March 5)


Annette Spence

Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.

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