CANNONSBURG, Ky. (KT) – The North American Mission Board’s new Send Relief Ministry hub in the Appalachian region found some willing hands and feet.
The NAMB provided supplies for 1,000 Send Relief crisis response buckets and a swarm of Disaster Relief workers from the Greenup Association of Baptists had them all packed up and ready to be put into service in a three-day period.
It was not surprising to Bill Johnson, who heads up the DR workers in northeastern Kentucky. NAMB had sent the supplies and asked Johnson if they needed to help organize a team to assemble the buckets with the items.
“I told them we’ve already put the call out and have workers ready,” he said. “I told them they didn’t have to send anybody. We were already mobilizing.”
The call went out last July 5 and 18 DR workers filled 220 buckets in only a few hours. They came back two days later and more than doubled the production. “We kind of refined our system a little more and put together 428 buckets that day,” Johnson said. “We’re finishing it up today.”
In about a week, more than 900 buckets were completed with only additional supplies waiting to fill the last 100 of the 1,000 flood buckets. Johnson estimated having about 60 total workers over the three-day period. Eight Southern Baptist churches from northeastern Kentucky were represented.
“We had some new people here today I’ve never seen,” he said. “You don’t have to be Disaster Relief-trained to fill these buckets. This is something anybody can do. Sunday school classes, youth groups … almost anybody can come out and load buckets.”
Linda Cook, one of the busy hands of DR workers, demonstrated putting together a bucket in about a minute. She had a system down where the bigger, heavier items were in the bottom of the bucket. But it was an assembly-line production that was efficient to watch with workers moving a bucket as they loaded it. Cook knew exactly where to put each item in her demonstration bucket.
“The method is you put the heavy stuff in the bottom and work up from there,” she said.
“We’re going to have 1,000 buckets sitting here in Cannonsburg ready to go out to wherever it’s needed,” Johnson said. “These are items that can be used immediately.”
Each bucket contains $50 worth of supplies and 18 items: Terry towels (four pack), trash bags (1 roll of 25), mold control spray, Ajax detergent, cleaner with bleach, Wonder Bar, first-aid kit, duct tape, scrub brush, leather palm gloves (three pack), utility knife, Sharpie Permanent marker (two pack), 3M Eyeglass protector, disposable gloves (two pack), hygiene kit, wire ties, respirator (two pack) and sponges (three pack).
Workers from the age of 4 to 90 participated in loading up the flood buckets. “People in my age group, just like many of our churches, maybe can’t do the physical work,” he said. “But they can do this.”
Seven-year-old Addison Bayes and her sister, Allianna, 4, were the youngest workers. Their grandfather, Bruce Bayes, is a DR-trained veteran and he was especially proud of the heart his granddaughters showed.
“They have absolutely loved doing this, knowing that these buckets are going to somebody to help,” he said. “They’ve picked up trash and moved buckets that weigh almost as much as they do and they’re having the time of their lives. I think they’re taking to it very well and are an inspiration to others.”
Ashley Bayes, the mother of the sisters, made yellow DR shirts especially for them with their names on the back. “They feel a little more involved and one with everybody and a part of the team. A lot of people should get their families involved in this.”
Bruce Bayes added: “You don’t have to go away to be a part of Disaster Relief. You can do it right here at home.”
The real blessing comes later, Johnson said, when the crsis response buckets are put in the hands of those who find themselves in desperate situations. On the Friday they were loading buckets, a flashflood struck a nearby area and four flood buckets were distributed immediately.
Johnson, a 10-year DR veteran who spent three years in New York as a coordinator during the Sandy rebuild, said the flood buckets are a way to invite the Gospel into homes.
“It opens the door for me to say ‘Jesus says we need to take care of each other,’’’ he said. “When you are meeting a need, people will listen to you. That’s what Jesus did. He’s our example. They respect you and appreciate that you’re trying to help. That’s the main reason for doing this. We want to share Jesus with a lost world.”
Johnson said during his time in New York the residents there were appreciative of the help.
“They’d say ‘Nobody from our church has called or checked on me. I want what you all have,’’’ he said. “That’s an open door to share Jesus because Jesus is the one who donated these goods and sent us to help.”
The crisis response buckets from the Send Relief Ministry hub are first resonse kind of products. NAMB responds according to state requests for help. The hub will double as a distribution center for Disaster Relief.
Mark Maynard is managing editor of Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org