By SYBIL DAVIDSON
With thousands of neighbors across the southeast recovering from fall hurricanes, Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson and the North Georgia Conference Cabinet set a day aside to serve at the Conference Disaster Response Warehouse at Impact UMC. (See photos from the work day here.)
The warehouse facility is used for receiving UMCOR Relief Kits, verifying the contents of the completed kits, then shipping them to where they are most needed when they are needed. Impact offers the space to the Conference at no charge. Although the space is temporary (it will soon be renovated as Impact continues to grow), it is ideal for many reasons according to Terry Raymond, one of the three volunteer warehouse managers.
"The location here is convenient to I-75, I-85, and I-20," said Raymond. "And it includes a loading dock which is invaluable."
After a tour and an orientation, the cabinet rolled up their sleeves and got to work.
Each kit that comes in must be checked for accuracy. Two things matter in shipping: weight and size. When the kits are correctly assembled, the weight is known, the contents fit in a closed 5-gallon bucket, and the supplies are appropriate for the recipient. Hygiene kits are boxed in quantities of 50 when they're assembled correctly.
The cabinet quickly learned how much people-power it takes for the task of verifying relief kits. Sometimes buckets have content that isn't requested (as attested by boxes upon boxes of sponges, magic erasers, cleaning wipes, and gloves that don't meet requirements and have been removed). Sometimes liquids are put in upside down and spill or leak, making for a sticky mess and moldy contents. Each kit must be disassembled and re-assembled correctly in a clean container.
All the items that are removed from the buckets are donated to other organizations as long as they're salvageable. Replacement contents are available at the warehouse so they every kit is made complete.
Bishop Sue suggests that churches consider purchasing the products for the buckets or kits in bulk, then having an assembly party as a way to avoid so much labor correcting kits.
"I want churches to copy us," said Bishop Sue. "Come volunteer here at the warehouse or go serve at one of the disaster sites. There is great need around us and we can use every one of us to accomplish this work."
Sue Raymond, another of the volunteer warehouse managers, said that this way of serving is important to her because she may not be able to serve in a shelter in another part of the country after a disaster, but the people there will have soap, a new toothbrush, and other items they need because she spent a few hours working here at the warehouse.
While the cabinet was volunteering, Mt. Bethel UMC in Marietta made a delivery of nearly 400 relief buckets from members of their church. Cabinet members jumped in to help unload and organize the buckets.
Rev. Matt Murphy, another of the volunteer warehouse coordinators, is happy to work with teams to schedule a time to work at the warehouse. It is open by appointment only on Tuesdays and Thursdays for volunteers to verify kits and for delivery of supplies. (Note that churches should send enough volunteers to unload their delivery.) Reach out to Murphy by email at email@example.com.
"We recognize North Georgia as a strategic location for business, but for many of the same reasons we are perfectly positioned for Disaster Response," said Rev. Scott Parrish, Conference Disaster Response Coordinator. "There is such great need and there is a way for all of us to serve."
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