Children in Africa will eat for another year and others will learn a trade, thanks to the generosity of Holston congregations.
As part of the annual spring Hands-On Mission Project, churches provided 7,200 kits, an increase from 6,300 in 2007, according to Missions Coordinator Bill Daugherty.
"I think the people recognize the tremendous difference we make in the
lives of children,” Daugherty said, “and they have become very
For several years, Holston has collected kits for Ishe Anesu in Zimbabwe led by Maria Humbane, and the Liberia mission led by Mary and Herbert Zigbuo.
This year for the first time, some congregations have also committed to collecting special occupational kits for Liberia.
“When boys got up to 12 or 13, they were yanked out of school and sent to war,” Daugherty explained. “Now, they are not at war and they have a woman president. These kids are coming back with no skills. They will take these kits and teach them a skill so they can get a job.”
How did your district do? Scroll down to see district totals.
Fairview UMC collected electrical supplies; First Alcoa, plumbing;
Middlesettlements,carpentry; Munsey Memorial, sewing; Wesley Memorial,
Bearden, cosmetology. Daugherty said he approached select
churches to collect the vocational kits.
“I went to churches that were mission-minded churches. It was amazing. We asked them to do 15 kits,” Daugherty said. “We ended up with more than 30 kits each of electrical, carpentry, and plumbing. That really blew me away.”
The Rev. Gordon McBride coordinated Tazewell District efforts. He also
was excited about the increase in kits collected. “I just think pastors
got behind it,” McBride said. “I think there was just an outpouring.
They didn’t set out to outdo last year. They just gave.”
All but three of Tazewell District’s 84 churches contributed 723 school supply kits for Liberia, McBride said, surpassing the district goal of 200 kits.
Of course, receiving more kits than expected posed challenges for McBride and his crew. Though the rental trailer provided enough space to transport the excess, volunteers scrambled to find enough boxes.
“We scrounged boxes from several stores in the area,” McBride said. “One store was dumping stock on the floor and giving me the boxes. They just jumped right in there.”
Once each district collected their assigned kits, trucks converged at several drop-off points, where they were off-loaded onto larger trucks. All of the kits arrived at Fairview UMC in Maryville, Tenn., on June 6. McBride drove two hours to deliver his district supplies to Kingsport, where other northern districts also deposited their kits. John Bock, who owns a moving company in Maryville, picked up offerings from six districts into his 18-wheeler and transported them to Fairview UMC. Districts from the southern end also delivered their collections to Fairview.
Danny Garland and his Fairview crew stood waiting when all the trucks arrived. Through trial and error developed from years of experience, Garland said the crew developed a system that simplifies the whole process. The items are unloaded when they arrive, then packed into two Sealand ocean containers, which look a lot like semi-truck trailers.
“We learned where to put what,” Garland said. “The food buckets pack better toward the front. Then we put plywood dividers up to create three walls per Sealand. You just learn short cuts and what it takes to get the job done”
Garland and Jim Chadwick, along with their spouses Shelby and Jane, spent most of the day repacking items into same-size plastic totes, because they pack easier. When the 1,351 food buckets arrived from Chattanooga and Cleveland Districts, volunteers backed the truck end-to-end with the ocean carrier and offloaded them directly.
An estimated 35 to 50 people assisted at Fairview, Garland said. “We are just a volunteering church. We don’t have a problem with that. We just put the word out and they just show up.”
Daugherty said the Sealands were put on ocean liners on June 9 at Charleston, S.C. He expects the supplies to take four weeks to get to Liberia and up to eight weeks to get to Zimbabwe, because that country is landlocked.
“We hope to have folks from our conference to be at both sites when they arrive to see the things unloaded,” Daugherty said.
Kits collected for Liberia:
- Abingdon - teacher kits. Goal: 300. Collected: 230.
- Big Stone Gap -school supply kits. Goal: 150. Collected: 274.
- Kingsport – health kits. Goal: 300. Collected: 530.
- Johnson City – school supply kits. Goal: 300. Collected: 587.
- Tazewell – school supply kits. Goal: 200. Collected: 723.
- Wytheville – school supply kits. Goal: 300. Collected: 685.
Kits collected for Zimbabwe:
- Chattanooga – food buckets. Goal: 400. Collected: 670.
- Cleveland – food buckets. Goal: 300. Collected: 681.
- Knoxville – health kits. Goal: 400. Collected: 1,047.
- Maryville – health kits. Goal: 300. Collected: 558.
- Morristown – school kits. Goal: 300. Collected: 701.
- Oak Ridge – sewing kits. Goal: 250. Actual: 418.