United Methodist program supplies kits
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) assisted with Spokane fire aid beginning Aug. 19, partnering with the American Red Cross to supply 240 hygiene kits to people at the evacuation shelter at Spokane Falls Community College, said Sheila Miranda, associate for connectional ministries in the Inland and Seven Rivers District of the Pacific Northwest United Methodist Church (UMC).
UMCOR is the arm of the global UCM that responds to disasters domestically and internationally. It works with the Washington Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and at the request of affected communities.
The kits, which include items for personal hygiene—such as soap, wash cloths, towels, combs, toothbrushes and toothpaste—are made by United Methodist churches before disasters and stored until needed.
"Hygiene kits were delivered to Spokane from UMCOR storage at Trinity United Methodist Church in East Wenatchee," said Sheila, an ordained pastor serving with her husband, Daniel, who is district superintendent.
On Sunday, Aug. 20, Spokane area United Methodist churches were asked to make hygiene kits to replace those taken from storage. Several churches responded, so new kits will be available in the area if needed or held in storage until the next disaster.
The churches also respond in individual ways to needs they become aware of, especially supporting church family and friends who lost homes or who had to be evacuated.
"Cleaner Air Kits" were brought from UMCOR storage at Wenatchee First United Methodist. These are box fans with a furnace filter attached by a bungee cord to filter smoke from air in homes. These kits were delivered to Deer Park UMC to distribute in the Elk and Deer Park areas to persons vulnerable to poor air quality, Sheila said.
UMCOR representatives are recruiting volunteers and work with other organizations on recovery of the Spokane and Whitman County wildfire survivors.
UMCOR is one of the first relief work organizations to arrive at a disaster. Early Response Teams, UMCOR-trained disaster site clean-up volunteers and disaster case managers are part of its work, as well as home rebuilds.
Sheila said UMCOR is available for the long haul. Its volunteers and staff are most often the last out of a disaster area.
"An example of its commitment to the long-term is evidenced in our recovery work in Okanogan County," she said. "The Carlton Complex fire of 2014/2015 and a 2020 fire in the area found many uninsured or uninsurable homes destroyed. After nearly nine years serving in the area, UMCOR's work with the Okanogan Long Term Recovery Group will end as the last of 49 new homes was dedicated on Sept. 1."
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