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Disaster-relief goals set for districts, local churches

Residents of Hurley, Virginia, received relief kits from Holston Conference after destructive flash floods and mudslides on Aug. 30. (Photo by Donnie Lee Bailey)

ALCOA, Tenn. -- Holston Conference wants to live up to its reputation as a "mission-minded" conference. That's why the director of connectional ministries is asking local churches and districts to help meet a growing need for disaster-response supplies.
 
The Rev. Mike Sluder set a goal for local churches to each give $100 and church members to work together to help their districts each collect 200 “cleaning kits” and 200 “hygiene kits” by Oct. 31.
 
“Our current disaster-response supply is running low, and we need your help to resupply our stock,” Sluder said.
 
In an email sent to Holston church leaders, Sluder referred to Hurricane Ida and Tropical Storm Nicholas, the most recent in a slew of natural disasters contributing to the depletion of Holston’s stockpile of cleaning and hygiene kits.
 
For example, Holston mission workers recently delivered cleaning and hygiene kits to residents of Hurley, Virginia, after destructive flooding and mudslides occurred Aug. 30. The Rev. Donnie Lee Bailey, pastor at nearby Grundy United Methodist Church, said at least “14 houses were completely gone” and another 14 had been “moved off their foundations” by a storm remnant of Hurricane Ida.
 
United Methodist churches routinely assemble “cleaning kits” (also known as “cleaning buckets” or “flood buckets”) to help people clean up after disasters such as hurricanes and floods. The kits include detergent, scrub brushes, and trash bags and are put together using instructions developed by UMCOR. The value of each kit is about $75. (See instructions.)
"Hygiene kits" at Church Street UMC
 

Hygiene kits” are also year-round mission projects for many United Methodists, especially suited for youth groups and children. UMCOR’s ingredient list includes washcloths, soap, shampoo, and toothbrushes for disaster survivors who may have lost or don’t have access to their belongings. The value of each kit is about $12. (See instructions.)
 
Holston’s inventory of cleaning kits and hygiene kits are stored at Project Crossroads in Marion, Virginia, and Cokesbury United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“We’ve had so many disasters, so it’s kind of a constant need,” said the Rev. Harry Howe, Project Crossroads director. “If churches would commit to doing a few [kits] every quarter, that would help.”
 
"Cleaning kits" at First Broad Street UMC

Sluder asked Holston’s nine districts to each collect 200 cleaning kits and 200 hygiene kits -- for a total of 1,800 of each kind of kit.
 
He also asked each of Holston’s 850 local churches to give $100 to Holston’s disaster response “Advance” fund. "These funds are used to cover the cost of delivering supplies and for purchasing needed supplies when kits are incomplete," Sluder said.

To give financially, write a check to your local church with “Holston Advance #143” on the memo line. Or write a check to "Holston Conference" with “Holston Advance #143” on the memo line and mail to: P.O. Box 850, Alcoa, TN 37701.

Church groups should contact their district offices for instructions on when and where to drop off their prepared kits. These districts have shared the following instructions:

 
Appalachian District
  • Collection site: District office, 1314 W. Jackson Street, Suite 101, Gate City, VA
  • Drop off beginning Aug. 30, Monday-Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., until further notice. Please call ahead at 423.224.1533 or 276.523.3025.
 
New River District
  • Collection site: District office, 105 Asbury Lane, Wytheville, VA
  • Drop off Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Or call 276.228.4922 to make appointment.
 
Tennessee Valley District
  • Collection site: Central UMC, 201 Third Avenue, Knoxville, TN
  • Drop off Monday-Friday, 8-11 a.m., through Oct. 1.
  • Or call 865.524.1659 to make appointment.

Three Rivers District
  • Collection site: District Ministry Center, 110 Mary Street, Gray, TN
  • Drop off Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., through Sept. 30
  • Or call 423.926.7533 to make an appointment