By Michelle Scott Okabayashi*
March 8, 2012—“Every time, happy smiles radiate from children’s faces upon receiving school and hygiene kits. These supplies are of great help both for the families and for the school,” said Seyran Makaryan, director of Special School #1 in Sisian, Armenia, of the kits the school recently received from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
Special School #1 provides education and care for children with disabilities. The Armenian government allocates just 26 US dollars a year per child for clothing, shoes, and hygiene items. The UMCOR kits help the school better provide for their students—many of whom live at the school. Kits also go to the children’s families, who struggle to provide the basic necessities.
In 2012, UMCOR will send 31,584 health kits and 22,176 school kits to Armenia alone. The One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) offering helps make this relief supply ministry possible. “OGHS is so vital to keeping UMCOR going, so we have staff for the projects that the Advances support,” said Kathy Kraiza, UMCOR’s executive director of Relief Supplies.
UMCOR Sager Brown, UMCOR’s main depot, is celebrating 20 years of ministry this year. It, along with UMCOR’s relief supply ministry, was established in 1992 during UMCOR’s response to Hurricane Andrew. The historic Sager Brown campus in Baldwin, La., served as a staging ground for distributing supplies after the hurricane, and soon became a place to gather and ship in-kind goods to places of need in the US and around the world.
For recipients, these kits are a gift of love and represent much more than the combs, bars of soap, pencils, and sheets of paper they contain. “We understand that we are not forgotten and left in the midst of problems,” said Tamar Abshilava, an 82-year-old displaced person in the nation of Georgia. He received health and bedding kits through UMCOR’s field office there.
Your contributions to OGHS help UMCOR reach out through the gift of a kit, education, shelter, or even just a listening ear to people who might otherwise be forgotten. OGHS is the backbone of UMCOR. It allows the organization to serve others on your behalf, as a tangible witness to God’s steadfast love for them.
*Michelle Scott Okabayashi is a journalist and a frequent contributor to UMCOR.org and the UMCOR Hotline.