Holston raises $590,352, sends 17,000 health kits to help Haiti

Holston raises $590,352, sends 17,000 health kits to help Haiti

One month after Haiti's devastating earthquake, Holston Conference has collected $590,352 in offerings and more than 17,000 health kits for relief efforts in the devastated country.

If each health kit is valued at $12 each, Holston's total contribution for UMCOR Haiti Relief is currently $794,352.

The conference finance office announced the latest offering total on Feb. 12. Also on Feb. 12, Holston made its third delivery of health kits to UMCOR's Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, La. From there, UMCOR will transport the supplies to Haiti.

Last week, UMCOR announced that it has received $11 million in offerings and more than 350,000 health kits for Haiti. (See UMNS story.)

"Holston has done an extraordinary job, but I'm not really surprised," said Bill Daugherty, Holston missions coordinator. "We always seem to rise to the occasion whenever disaster strikes."

Health kits” are one-gallon plastic bags filled with soap, shampoo, hand towels, combs, bandages, and other personal necessities. UMCOR has requested these supplies to help people who have been forced to leave their homes because of the earthquake.

Holston sent its first batch of health kits to UMCOR's Louisiana base on Jan. 23 through Jim Hayes of Norris, Tenn. Hayes was already scheduled to do volunteer work at Sager Brown and took along a load of health kits prepared by the Knoxville and Maryville Districts, Daugherty said.

On Feb. 7, the Rev. Ty Harrison and Joe Harmon of First Hillsville United Methodist Church made several stops through Holston, ultimately delivering 10,063 kits to Louisiana.

Harmon owns a sports-field maintenance company and donated the use of his 35,000-foot trailer during the off-season, Harrison said. The two men left the Wytheville District and made stops in Johnson City, Morristown, Knoxville, Ten Mile, Ooltewah, and Cleveland to pick up kits. Harrison said he was impressed by the hard work and organizational skills of district administrative assistants Betty Barton, Dixie Miller, Mary Hawkins, and Carol Underwood, who made sure the pick-up effort went smoothly.

The truck had a 26,000-pound gross weight limit, Harrison said. When the health kits were finally loaded, the truck's gross weight totaled 25,400.

"We were cutting it pretty close," Harrison said, laughing.

Arriving at Sager Brown, the two men from Virginia were greeted by 14 volunteers from Nebraska. “They had us unloaded in an hour,” Harrison said. “I was quite impressed with it. I watched some of the other folks working on health kits, and they opened every single one of them to make sure they were the way they’re supposed to be.”

On Feb. 11, Danny Howe and the Rev. Harry Howe departed for Holston’s third health-kit delivery to Louisiana. Harry Howe is director of Project Crossroads in Marion, Va. Danny Howe is missions director at First Broad Street UMC in Kingsport, Tenn.

The two brothers brought kits from the Virginia districts and the Tri-Cities districts, making additional stops in Knoxville, Farragut, and Chattanooga. By the time they crossed into Georgia, the 24,000-foot trailer was stuffed “top to bottom, front to back, side to side” with more than 7,000 kits, according to Danny Howe.

At Sager Brown, the truck was unloaded by volunteers from Indiana and Nebraska. At the time, Sager Brown had 200,000 kits that had yet to be processed, Howe said.

“But they were very organized, very much on top of things,” he said. “They had 60 volunteers there on the site that day, and they were already booked up with volunteers for the next four weeks.”

Howe, who also serves as chair of Holston’s Missions Ministry Team, commended churches for their work and dedication.

“It’s a testament to our Annual Conference’s commitment whenever our denomination is called to address broken humanity,” he said. “It’s also a testament to our denomination, which is always ready to respond en masse to meet immediate needs after any disaster.”

Holston Conference will make a fourth run to Sager Brown in late February, to accommodate the many schools and community groups that have asked to contribute health kits to UMCOR. The fourth delivery will bring Holston’s total to well over 20,000 health kits, Daugherty said.

Churches or groups who still have kits to send to UMCOR should contact Bill Daugherty at billdaugherty@holston.org or toll-free (866) 690-4080.