A network for those in need

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Southeast Missourian

Members of Centenary United Methodist Church, and churches from around the area, recently spent a month collecting clothing, bed linen, shoes and school supplies to send to needy villagers in Nicaragua.

The goal was to fill a tractor-trailer that had been parked on the church lot. The collection gathered more than 27,000 items that were counted, sorted and stored for shipping.

The items will be crated and shipped via the Rainbow Network, a mission program that has headquarters in Springfield, Mo.

In years past, the church has sent volunteers to Nicaragua to help build houses or work in rural, needy communities. Church members also did similar projects with Rainbow Network in Honduras.

Instead of organizing a mission trip that only involves a few people, the church opted to ask for every member's help in collecting items for Nicaragua.

Those trips are really life-changing experiences, said senior pastor the Rev. Clayton Smith.

The Rainbow Network helps sustain the Nicaraguan communities where it works by giving villagers jobs. Whether it's farming, raising chickens, or working at jobs at medical clinics or shops selling the donated items, all the villagers have work.

The items donated by Centenary will be used by the Rainbow Network to help provide a better quality of life for the Nicaraguans. Items donated were clothing for men, women and children, shoes, bedding, baby care items, construction supplies, school supplies, toiletries and toys for children.

Most of the items will be used by communities in rural areas of the country, where poverty is highest. Church volunteers sorted the items, boxing like things together. The boxes will be shipped by companies like Chiquita or Dole that travel regularly to Nicaragua.

Martha Sanderson said the job was one that required a lot of time and effort because every single piece of clothing had to be sorted and boxed.

And how the group worked was just amazing, said Dottie Cruce, who organized the volunteer labor. "We wouldn't have enough clothes and more would come. Or we wouldn't have enough boxes and more would come. Or if we didn't have anybody signed up to work, people would show up. It was just amazing."

Volunteers and donors were honored Thursday with a barbecue cookout at the church's Family Life Center.

The donated items are now in storage awaiting a shipping date.

ljohnston@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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