Volunteers and staff set up the church’s gym with tables loaded with washcloths, toothbrushes, combs and various other supplies needed for the health kits. Photo: Jo Swayne.
By Jo Swayne*
October 14, 2014—Since January of this year, the children of First United Methodist Church (FUMC) in Hays, Kansas, have been “Feeding the Fish” during offertory. Their donated change was designated to help purchase supplies for health kits for UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief). On August 24, all their faithful giving paid off!
Volunteers and staff set up the church’s gym with tables loaded with washcloths, toothbrushes, combs and various other supplies needed for the health kits. Because FUMC has sent members on several mission trips to UMCOR Sager Brown Depot, there were volunteers present who had firsthand knowledge of how to assemble the kits. UMCOR Sager Brown is one of UMCOR’s two relief-supply depots, and one of eight in the United Methodist relief-supply system.
Since January, the children of First United Methodist Church in Hays, Kansas, have been “Feeding the Fish” during offertory. Photo: Jo Swayne.
In all, 28 children, who range in age from kindergarten through sixth grade, listened to LaVaughn Hull and Ruth Mullen, FUMC members and UMCOR volunteers, as they talked about their mission team’s trips from Hays to Baldwin, Louisiana. They shared that the team traveled more than 1,000 miles to get to UMCOR Sager Brown Depot, showed the kids pictures of the kit-assembly process, and talked about how the kits are packaged and shipped all over the world.
LaVaughn and Ruth went into detail, explaining how precise the contents of each of the health kits need to be to ensure that the correct number of every item is properly included. Then 15 adult volunteers, half of whom had been to UMCOR Sager Brown Depot, supervised the children as they each made a health kit. After wrapping the towel carefully around all the supplies and putting them into a gallon-size baggie, the kids learned that leaning on the baggie lets out as much air as possible!
In the end, when all the towels were folded and Band-aids counted, we had assembled 60 health kits!
During the worship service, children who had been seated throughout the sanctuary were invited to come forward and place their health kit on the altar for a special blessing. It was a very moving experience for everyone!
*Jo Swayne is the Children’s Ministry director at First United Methodist Church in Hays, Kansas. You can learn more about how relief-supply kits help provide care for the most vulnerable people during times of crisis by clicking here.