By Barbara Dunlap-Berg*
“Just because you see a little girl crying on the news because she lost her dolly in the hurricane, don’t start a toy drive.”
So advised Patti Glasser, director of operations for Mission Central, the mission warehouse of the Susquehanna Annual (regional) Conference. In Mechanicsburg, Pa., about three hours from the Big Apple, Glasser and her staff of five already are responding to Hurricane Sandy-related needs from New York. They are waiting to hear from other affected states.
When a disaster occurs, Glasser explained, “we have to allow nature to take its course. First, the floodwaters come, then they recede, then disaster coordinators go into the area and assess the damage and see what is needed.” The next step is to coordinate resources – both people and supplies.
Mission Central staff shipped 1,000 cleaning buckets to hurricane survivors in New York, Glasser said. Eventually, she anticipates thousands more of the buckets will be requested from New Jersey and Delaware.
Current urgent needs are personal insect repellant spray (6-14 ounces), liquid household cleaner (12- or 16-ounce bottles) and liquid laundry detergent (25- or 50 ounces). “Ultimately,” Glasser added, “we will need the entire contents of the cleaning buckets.”
What doesn’t Mission Central need?
“Clothing and toys,” Glasser replied. “Quite honestly, people are so kindhearted and giving,” and they want to do something. But unsolicited donations overwhelm staff and volunteers.
“When people don’t even have food and clean water, their needs are very basic. People have to be patient and respond to specific requests.”
Founded a decade ago, Mission Central, along with satellite “HUBS,” supplies humanitarian goods and logistical services to hundreds of ministry and social service agencies. The agency hosts 9,000 to 10,000 volunteers annually.
“God is at work”
Mission Central processes United Methodist Committee on Relief “Relief Kits” for use around the world, provides needed supplies for local and national ministries and assists projects that share God’s love around the world.
“Mission Central,” said former board member and active United Methodist Stephen Drachler, “does a tremendous job responding to natural disasters around the world. God is at work through these dedicated disciples of Christ.”
To learn more about Mission Central, go to http://www.missioncentral.org/. Ship or deliver donations to Mission Central, 5 Pleasant View Drive, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050. Make monetary donations on the organization’s website or mail checks to the address above.
*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor at United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.