George Gedenvanishvili, head of mission for UMCOR’s country office in Georgia, distributes school kits assembled by United Methodist churches in the U.S. and shipped by UMCOR Sager Brown. School kits provide the most basic learning tools for young children around the world who may not have access to such supplies.
Donations to UMCOR Sager-Brown Are Symbol of Hope
By Sandra Brands*
For every dollar donated through last year’s UMC #GivingTuesday campaign to the UMCOR Sager-Brown Depot in Baldwin, La., (Advance Project #901440), a life was touched.
According to Kathy Kraiza, executive director of the material resources ministry of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), the donations meant “we were probably able to touch 10,000 lives in one way or another. Kits are going to be available to go out during a disaster or when there’s a need.”
Health, school, bedding, cleaning buckets and other relief-supply kits are donated by United Methodist churches throughout the world and shipped to UMCOR Sager-Brown’s headquarters in Baldwin or to a network of United Methodist relief-supply depots across the United States. Volunteers check each kit for completeness and extra supplies are purchased to fill in missing items so every kit is ready to be sent to those in need.
Young girls in the Philippines line up for a photo after receiving UMCOR school kits earlier this year. Photo: Francesco Paganini
That consistency is important, said Greg Forrester, assistant general secretary for UMCOR's U.S. Disaster Response division, which also includes the Caribbean and Central America. “When there’s a disaster and a person receives an incomplete kit compared to what others are receiving, it’s a problem.”
“The money donated through The Advance allows flexibility in assembling kits at our warehouse,” he said.
“The kits not only fill a need,” Kraiza said, “they are a symbol of hope, especially meaningful during the Advent Season. A cleaning bucket may not seem like much when you’re facing a flooded house, but it’s a symbol that you are not alone. Someone made that kit, someone packed that kit, and our prayers went with it.”
“It seems fitting,” Kraiza continued, “that the UMC’s #GivingTuesday happens at the beginning of Advent, which is all about the expectation of what’s to come. It is a time of hope, just as these kits are a symbol of hope to those who receive them.”
UMC’s #GivingTuesday is part of an international movement that sets aside the Tuesday following Thanksgiving as a day to give back in gratitude for God’s blessings.
“Whenever we can overcome commercialism and use a funding mechanism or an opportunity to funnel funds through our church, it shows the strength of our connection,” Forrester said. “I found it encouraging that we could raise $6.5 million in one day [last year]. It shows we have a tremendous number of viable ministries in our church and a tremendous amount of resources in our churches and our people.”
#UMC GivingTuesday, Dec. 2
This year, Global Ministries will again provide matching grants, up to $1 million**, for online donations made to any project through The Advance as part of UMC #GivingTuesday, Dec. 2, “When Methodists Are United.” One hundred percent of gifts given go to projects designated by the donor through The Advance, The United Methodist Church’s giving channel.
For resources to promote and share UMC #GivingTuesday, click here.
*Sandra Brands is a writer and regular contributor to umcmission.org.
**Global Ministries will allocate the matching funds dollar for dollar up to the first $1 million in gifts to Advance projects received online on Dec. 2, 2014, between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. EST. A maximum of $2,500 per individual gift to a project will be dispersed as matching funds. A project may receive a maximum of $25,000 in matching funds.