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Thanksgiving Ingathering season is upon us.
The 34th annual event supports missions in and through the Iowa United Methodist Conference. This year’s event will take place November 2.
“The sites are, of course, putting the word out around the conference to their churches and through the District offices, and just trying to encourage people,” said Thanksgiving Ingathering coordinator Dan Houston.
The Thanksgiving Ingathering is one way for Iowa United Methodists to address hunger problems locally and around the world.
Projects supported by the Ingathering in include Church World Service, Heifer Project International, Self-Help International, Iowa-Nigeria Partnership, UMCOR Depot-Baldwin, LA, Personal Energy Transportation and also District hunger-related agencies.
“One of the things that they’re working on is the fact that the money that we use for the hunger agencies is generated by the undesignated amounts that come in to the Ingathering,” Houston said.
That consists of the auctions (i.e. quilt auction), food that people buy and items purchased at the bazaar.
“That’s one way that we’re trying to generate more income,” he said.
“It seems like more and more these days the hunger agencies are needing our help more and more,” said Houston. “And that’s one of the main things the sites are working on this year.”
The same projects supported in the past by the Ingathering are in place, said Houston.
“Those agencies are still doing their thing very well,” he continued. "And they’re all needing the support probably more than ever before.”
“Each site is continuing to have the youth come on Friday night, and have a good time getting things set up for the next day,” Houston said. “And they have programming for the kids then too, and they have a great time with that.”
Some of the young people stay and work at the Ingathering on Saturday when the vehicles come in and need to be unloaded, and boxes get filled.
“It’s a good thing for the kids to get involved with from around the sites,” said Houston.
What began with humble ministry in its early stages has developed and grown to a ministry that has made a world of difference over the years. The Ingathering is also unique to the Iowa Conference.
“It’s been great watching it evolve over the years, “Houston said.
“I always enjoy talking with some of the people that were involved early on,” he said. “Like I remember talking to one lady; she was kind of complaining a little bit about her husband taking the back seat out of the car and hauling goats to Heifer Project in down Missouri.”
Houston also recounted a District Superintendent talking last year about cleaning out the church van after it had been used to deliver animals.
“One of the things that we’re kind of encouraging this year, is that people pay attention to the instructions about bringing their money and bringing their items, and do their paper work properly, and label the boxes good and do a good job on the remittance forms,” said Houston. “If they do that real well that really helps the people at the sites.”
If people have questions they can visit the Iowa Annual Conference website and click on the Ministries tab, or they can call their site coordinator, their district representative, or Houston himself.
“We’ve all been fielding a few questions in recent days,” Houston said. “In fact I had one question that I had to answer from somebody who was starting to work on 2014 kits.”
“So they’re really getting on the ball,” he said.
Dan Houston’s contact information is firstname.lastname@example.org.