UMCOR / News Room / News & Features / Archives 2006 / 20061128

Relief Supplies Can Change Lives

Photo Essay

Relief Supply Photo Essay

Washcloths. Combs. Toothpaste. Notebooks. Baby blankets. United Methodists collect these and other supplies to create kits or packages that will serve others in need. When the supplies land at UMCOR Sager Brown in Baldwin, La., volunteers make them ready for reshipment to where they're needed throughout the world and the US. In 2006 more than 400,000 kits were shipped out from the Sager Brown depot.

For many, the story ends here. It ends with the knowledge that the kits will eventually go somewhere to someone. But the details of whom the kits help remain a mystery. Many church members give faithfully without knowing exactly who receives the kits and what it means to them.

UMCOR Sager Brown Director, Charles Maddox, followed a shipment from the depot in Louisiana on its journey to Armenia. UMCOR has been sending relief supplies to Armenia since 1995. Over the years school kits, health kits, sewing kits, blankets, and other items have found their way into thousands of Armenian families, orphanages, boarding schools, nursing homes and institutions for people who are physically and mentally impaired.

UMCOR's Armenia office has 73 projects that serve approximately 10,000 people. The supplies that are donated through UMCOR Sager Brown not only provide a tangible way to give to people UMCOR serves overseas, but also helps offset program expenses, freeing funds to be used in other needed areas.

Charles was able to visit several of these projects and experience first-hand how relief supply donations change lives. Zaven Khachikian, an Armenian photographer, traveled with him. Through their words and photos you can experience some of their journey in the photo essay below.


Children in schools and living in institutions alike benefit from the thousands of health and school kits assembled and shipped by United Methodists each year. This is what happened at one school we visited.

Kits arrive at the school where older boys help unload the van.

The children quietly lined up to receive their health and school kits.

It wasn't until later, when I peeked into their classrooms that I could see the excitement that arose as they looked inside their kits.

Sewing Kits

Sewing kits allow adults and children to not only practice the art of sewing, but also to increase their skills to earn additional income and improve their lives.

I have been asked many times, "what could they do with only three yards of material?" The photos below should give you a good idea of what can be accomplished with the supplies in a sewing kit.

Elderly Homes

Homes for the Elderly also receive UMCOR Sager Brown shipments. The joy people expressed over something as small as a health kit was overwhelming.

You Make a Difference

Gifts of washcloths, combs, blankets, notebooks, fabric and other items make a huge difference in the lives of thousands in Armenia and around the world. They are a tangible expression of the care and concern of United Methodists in the US for some of the world's most vulnerable people.

Visit UMCOR's Relief Supplies page to find out how you can send kits like these to people in need.