Continuing a mission tradition of sending life-sustaining supplies to Africa, Holston churches again surpassed their own generosity by collecting a record total of buckets and kits for the Hands-on Mission Project.
Each of Holston's 12 districts exceeded their goals and stuffed food, school, health, and sewing supplies into trucks during the week before Annual Conference. On June 8, volunteers transported the supplies to Fairview United Methodist Church in Maryville where they were packed into ocean-carrying trailers.
See district loading photos
See Fairview loading photos
In Johnson City, volunteers gathered at the district office to load supplies for Liberia before picking up the additional 908 buckets waiting at Munsey Memorial UMC.
"We completely filled a 26 foot U-Haul with buckets and medical supplies for Liberia," said Betty Barton, district administrative assistant. The stash left no available space for Kingsport District's collection, so Barton had to locate another truck.
Johnson City District had a goal of 250 food buckets for Liberia; they collected 908. The five-gallon food buckets contained sugar, rice, dried beans, powdered milk, cooking oil, and canned ham.
Cleveland District collected 541 health kits (towel, washcloth, toothbrushes, deodorant, toothbaste, antibiotic ointment, shampoo, lotion, aspirin, cologne), beyond its goal of 400. Cleveland churches also contributed $2,720 toward cost, said Carol Underdown, district administrative assistant.
"Praise should go out to all our churches that collected the health kits with extra thanks to our [packers and truck drivers]," Underdown said. "They all worked so very hard at this project. It is touching to witness, and I’m proud of them all."
See district totals list
At Fairview in Maryville, Senior Pastor Jerry Russell and Anne Travis put their heads together to figure out how to pack the overwhelming response into two large trailers. Holston collected more than 9,000 buckets and kits in all. Travis and Russell decided a third truck was necessary to haul supplies to Charleston, where they could be shipped overseas.
"This is a first for Holston," said Travis, Holston director of connectional ministries. "We filled two 40-foot containers, one for Zimbabwe and one for Liberia, and an extra 20-foot container for Zimbabwe."
First Broad Street UMC in Kingsport and Cokesbury UMC in Knoxville had special assignments, Travis said.
"They provided 24 large 35-gallon tubs of various special items requested by [missionary] Maria Humbane for Zimbabwe. Items included additional specialized food items, T-shirts, flip-flops, undergarments, kitchen supplies, and various types of detergents and soaps."
Tazewell District is celebrating that 100 percent of its charges participated in this year's project, Travis said. The district goal was 200 sewing kits for Zimbabwe. Tazwell churches collected 1,006.
"As they say in Sudan, 'God is good, all the time; all the time, I’m a witness,'" Travis said on June 8. "I surely witnessed it today."
The loaded trucks were on location June 11 in Lake Junulaska for the Holston Annual Conference's blessing and send-off. The trucks immediately departed for Charleston, where supplies will be shipped to Africa and transported to Ishe Anesu Project in Zimbabwe and United Methodist schools in Liberia.
See district totals list