Local churches, business, and individuals pitch in to help –
By Patricia Beech –
When the Administrative Council of the Winchester United Methodist Church (WUMC) met last month the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey was in the forefront of their minds, according to Pastor Greg Roberts.
“The members saw a need and decided to fill 100 five-gallon buckets with hurricane relief supplies,” Roberts said. “That’s a lot of buckets, but we decided we’d try it and see what happened.”
What happened next came as a surprise to both Roberts and his congregation.
Roberts contacted Roger Bowlby, manager of the Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Hillsboro.
“The last time we filled relief buckets, Lowe’s sold them to us at half price,” said Roberts. “This time Roger volunteered to sell us both the buckets and the relief items at half the retail cost.”
The five-gallon buckets are filled with a prescribed list of cleaning supplies at a cost of $65-$70 each.
“We have a lot of co-workers in our company who work in those areas, and some have family there as well, so we definitely wanted to help out,” said Bowlby.
Donations from others sources began pouring in. The church received over $350 in response to a letter Roberts published in the Sept. 6 edition of The People’s Defender. Then, the Union Hill Church of Christ near Peebles sent a check for $700.
“You find that denomination lines disappear when people are in need,” said Roberts. “And we see that there are a lot of caring people out there that don’t necessarily find their way to a pew on Sunday morning.”
After Sunday services last week, Roberts asked church members for help filling the relief buckets.
“I asked for 15 volunteers, and I got at least twice that many,” he said. “Everyone wanted in on it.”
Tables were placed in a U-shape in the church’s fellowship hall and volunteers formed an assembly line with each person adding an item to the bucket.
“We must have done it right because we loaded 100 buckets in 45 minutes,” said Roberts. “It makes you feel pretty good about your church.”
Each bucket contained 50 ounces of laundry detergent, dish detergent, a 100-foot clothes line, 50 clothes pins, seven sponges, air freshener, insect repellent, work gloves, dust masks, and reusable wipes. All of the supplies were provided by Lowe’s with the exception of the laundry detergent, which was purchased at Kroger, Dollar General, and Walmart.
According to Roberts, the Shawnee Valley of the United Methodist Church, headquartered in Chillicothe, collected over 350 relief buckets from across nine different districts. The buckets were then distributed by The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) which addresses humanitarian needs in the United States and around the world.
“When someone gives a dollar to UMCOR it goes directly to a need,” said Roberts. “There are no administrative costs, there are no advertising or salaries coming out of that money – it all goes to relief.”
Roberts said the church collected enough funding to pay for another hundred buckets.
“People put their money in the plate on Sundays, and then we pray and ask for wisdom to deal with it so that we can make a difference in the world, and giving these buckets just seems like the best way to do that.”