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Chickerings, Bowmans return from UMCOR volunteer work in Louisiana

By Dorothy Muckey
The Algona Upper Des Moines
March 20, 2003

Marv and Iola Chickering and Tim and Deb Bowman of Algona have returned home after several weeks at Baldwin, LA where they worked for the United Methodist Commission on Relief (UMCOR). This is the third year the Chickerings have gone to Baldwin and the Bowmans have made two trips there to help.

Main functions of the UMCOR Disaster Relief Center is to sort and prepare donated items of all kinds for distribution around the world, housing rehabilitation in the surrounding communities and provide community enrichment through adult education and youth programs.

The work program is manned primarily by volunteers from all over the United States and there were 30 from Iowa in the Chickerings' and Bowmans' group.

The UMCOR site was an orphanage for black children after the Civil War, then a school. The financial situation darkened and the school children gave concerts to help raise money. Two women, Mrs. Sager and Mrs. Brown, attended and after the school closed they purchased the location and gave it to the United Methodist Women, realizing it had value as a depot.

Hurricane Andrew devastated the site in 1992, then UMCOR took over the gymnasium, repaired the buildings and built a depot.

During 2002, a total of 2500 volunteers came in to sort, pack and ship donated helpful relief items all over the world. Shipping may go by barge on the bayou at Baldwin to the Mississippi river down to the gulf where further transportation is by ship, truck or air.

A total of 400,606 pounds of merchandise was shipped during 2002. This included generators to Oklahoma after a tornado, flood buckets and power washers to Kentucky, three different shipments of health, sewing, school and layette kits, afghans, lap quilts, bedding paks and bales of blankets and clothing to Armenia; over 15,000 health kits to Mexico, many others to towns in Georgia after disastrous weather, plus much more within the United States and to foreign countries.

©Algona Upper Des Moines 2003