Dianne Climenhage, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Maritimes regional representative from Moncton, recently visited Grace United Church Digby. She is new in the position and wanted to meet the United Church Women’s (UCW) group who have been sending disaster relief kits to MCC over the years.
“Since 1920, MCC has worked with the church, partner organizations and supporters to share God’s love and compassion by responding to basic human needs and working for peace and justice,” the MCC website says. “They started by helping families affected by war and famine in southern Russia (present-day Ukraine) and now work in more than 50 countries and here at home.”
Marilyn Wright, who is involved with the Clementsport United Church Women, recalls how their group launched an effort to provide disaster relief kits.
“In 2000, our small Clementsport UCW group started collecting soap for general cleanliness, and since have produced many of the various types of kits which include health, hygiene, dental, relief, school, AIDS (the most expensive including a $100 cheque for AIDS medication), newborn, as well as comforters, towels, bed sheets and yardage for dress making.”
Since 2000 they have made up 640 kits and since 2006 more than 144 comforters.
Since the amalgamation of five churches in the area, the Clementsport UCW is now part of Grace United Church.
“The whole congregation, as well as friends and neighbours, have been very generous in taking part in the UCW projects,” Wright said, member/treasurer with the UCW, who oversees the local MCC project. “This year saw our highest number of hygiene kits at 184, and 29 comforters made by 91-year-old Hazel Ford and friends.”
The four-piece hygiene kits are the most economical to buy and one of the most needed in areas of disaster. They consist of an adult toothbrush, large bar of bath soap, fingernail clipper and a hand towel dark in colour. Drawstring bags are made by several volunteer seamstresses to contain the articles. Over the year, the items are gathered and bagged.
Traditionally, the kits and comforters are placed in the front church pews for display and a dedication service is performed blessing the items before being sent around the world from Moncton. A volunteer from New Brunswick, Ron Lowe, comes to visit family in the Digby area and delivers the kits to MCC.
Dianne Climenhage took a few minutes during the dedication of the kits to greet the congregation, explaining the mission of the MCC and thanking everyone for their generosity in providing the simple items of relief to those around the world in dire circumstances. She related a story of a person in Africa who was overcome by the donation of a beautiful handmade comforter, prompting them to say, “Someone really loves me.”