Church Issues Personal Care Kit Challenge
Since 1989, Global Links
has worked to recover surplus medical supplies from hospitals and relied on volunteers to sort and package them to send to areas where they are needed. More recently through partnerships with many "safety-net" organizations in the Pittsburgh region they've also provided basic first-aid and hygiene supplies for homeless people and mobility devices for area residents.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, while their community partners were seeing an increasing need, Global Links had to close to close its volunteer center. So to support those struggling with unemployment and other financial challenges, Global Links put out a call for volunteers to make Personal Care Kits at home. Their goal is 21,000 Personal Care Kits in 2021. Christ United Methodist Church in Bethel Park responded to that call by launching an all church service project for the month of January.
The Personal Care Kit initiative was born out of ongoing need in our community during the pandemic, said Jeanna-Mar Simmons, Director of Missions and Outreach at Christ Church. Personal care items like soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant and lotion are not covered by SNAP benefits or other government assistance programs, forcing a cash purchase of these hygiene items, she explained.
Global Links is partnering with over 400 local non-profit and safety net programs like food pantries, shelters, child care centers, senior centers, out of school programs and charitable and free clinics to disseminate these kits.
Christ Church really embraced the project, collecting more than 350 kits during January. "Children's and Youth Ministries challenged their students, confirmands and their mentors took on the project and families invited neighbors to participate as well, Simmons said. "What a tremendous way to share Christ's transforming love in our community!!!"
Logistics were easy, she added. Global Links has a flyer to describe the process and a video to walk you through the project. Register and see details at globallinks.org/news/90
"Our pastors announced the initiative during worship, we shared all of the details on our website, staff promoted the project through their weekly email blasts and we posted updates on the Christ Church Facebook page," Simmons said. Large Rubbermaid bins were placed outside the main door of the church for easy drop off; they were emptied every other day and items were boxed. The Missions and Outreach team made the delivery to Global Links.
"This project was an easy and fun way to engage our congregation in service this winter. So many people are looking for meaningful ways to make a difference and this was the perfect fit for all ages," Simmons said.
"I challenge other United Methodist Churches in our District (Pittsburgh) to embrace this project too. Go to the Global Links website to get started."
Sandra Matoushaya, WPAUMC Mission Engagement Coordinator, endorsed and expanded the challenge. As a member of Global Links Young Leaders Advisory Committee, she suggested that churches in other districts may also want to get involved in making kits for Global Links or a ministry in their area serving those in need.