Iowa United Methodists are generous. They care.
For the 37th
consecutive year a heart for mission and love for others has been evident through Iowa Conference’s Thanksgiving Ingathering. Kits designated for UMCOR and the Iowa-Nigeria Partnership, cleaning buckets, cash offerings, quilts, and “country store” items poured into the five sites - Cedar Falls, Cherokee, Greenfield, Mt. Pleasant and Webster City.
Click here to see a photo album from the 2016 Thanksgiving Ingathering.
Thanksgiving Ingathering is a project of the Board of Laity. According to the Ingathering handbook, “There is a Task Force made up of the Thanksgiving Ingathering conference chairpersons, conference coordinators, site chairpersons, representatives from each district, representatives from each project, conference staff and at-large members. These people meet twice a year to set goals, discuss policy and projects, and to evaluate.”
In addition, the Board selects the projects supported through Thanksgiving Ingathering. “This year’s projects [were] Church World Service, Iowa-Nigeria Partnership, UMCOR Depot, Self-Help International, Heifer International, and PET. All these projects are directly related to the alleviation of hunger and poverty and its causes around the world, including the United States.”
Cars began lining up before 7:30 am at Greenfield United Methodist Church. Youth and adults, in green safety vests and equipped with hand trucks, began off-loading boxes of health kits, sewing kits, school kits, layette kits, birthing kits, tailoring kits, knotting kits, book and Bible kits, baby jackets and sweaters, hats, and dresses. The drivers and passengers of each car were greeted with a warm hello (helped by the terrific fall weather!) and a bag of fresh-baked cookies. A steady stream of cars – sometimes more than 20 were lined up - stretched back to the street until nearly 10 am.
Buckets were gathered together and boxes were taken to several areas for sorting and counting. Similar kits were repacked together in standard boxes. The count was written on the top and sides and then each kit type was stacked together on pallets, 10 high – way taller than the average 6 foot tall volunteer!
The tally sheet from each car was brought into the church where the value of the in-kind donation, along with cash and checks, was tabulated. (Health kits are valued at $12 each; layette kits are valued at $45 each; tailoring kits are valued at $14 each, for example.)
Two thirty-minute mission project presentations are part of the morning’s experience, in addition to the kits and quilts drop off and presentation of the gifts and in kind donations tally sheets. The Greenfield sanctuary filled at 10 am for a worship service that included a mission speaker, sermon, and special music offered by members of “Crescendo” of Immanuel UMC, Des Moines.
Joe Morin rode a P.E.T. vehicle down the center aisle and then spoke about how “this project provides personal mobility for vast numbers of persons suffering from the loss or use of legs due to polio, land mines, etc., in developing countries. Around the world, over 21 million people have leg disabilities that impair their mobility. Whether through disease, birth defects, accidents or landmines, they have lost the use of their legs. In many developing countries, such people are severely marginalized – treated as worthless, or shameful, or as cursed. Disabled children must be carried by older family members until they grow too big. Many crawl around or “scuttle” using whatever means they can to move across the ground. They are burdens to their families, and nonproductive problems for their communities. Often, they are simply shunted aside, or hidden away, or ignored.”
“The Personal Energy Transportation device, or P.E.T., is a sturdy, hand-cranked mobility cart or “wheel chair” specifically designed for the rough terrain found in many countries, particularly in rural areas. Using simple technology that can be maintained easily anywhere, the PET goes where standard wheel chairs can’t go. Solid rubber tires, used on wheelbarrows in the USA, provide puncture-proof transportation. For persons with limited upper-body strength, there are also push-type and pull-type PETs, by which a family member or friend can assist the disabled person. There is also a ¾ scale “kids’ PET” for use by children.”
“A PET is a practical, sturdy, maintainable three-wheeled hand-cranked wheelchair. At least 200 PET’s are produced in Hawarden, Iowa every year. The cost for material, assembling, boxing, and shipping a PET overseas is $250. PET-Iowa (Hawarden) is one of 23 PET affiliates in the U.S. and is located in northwest Iowa.” P.E.T. is an Iowa Advanced Special project, designated as #386.”
Rev. Katie Dawson spoke about worldwide mission “From Everywhere to Everywhere. Dawson, pastor of Immanuel UMC in Des Moines, shared some her experiences at a recent Board of Global Ministries meeting at the new world headquarters for the mission agency, in Atlanta. (Click here to experience Rev. Dawson’s sermon
Quilts are always a big part of the Thanksgiving Ingathering. Quilts are displayed in the fellowship hall and then, in the early afternoon, auctioned, raising additional thousands of dollars for missions. Child’s themed quilts, geometric patterns and glimpses of nature were among the nearly two dozen quilts created for the auction.
Special thanks to the youth and adults, who offloaded the cars, sorted and repacked kits, and tore down cardboard boxes. Great thanks to the people of the Greenfield UMC community for their hospitality, renowned breakfast rolls and burritos, lunch, and many other kindnesses. Appreciation to the teams that tallied the gifts, received the status sheets, and received and displayed the quilts.
What goes for the Greenfield UMC Ingathering site also applies to the people of the Cedar Falls, Cherokee, Mt. Pleasant, Asbury-Webster City locations.
The generosity of the 2015 Thanksgiving Ingathering realized $1,043,995.07 in gifts, auction proceeds, “country store sales,” and meals. The Board of Laity Ingathering team set an ambitious goal of $1,600,000 for 2016. Final calculations will determine how close Iowa United Methodists came to realizing the missions dream of serving neighbors near and far with extravagant generosity.
Northwest District works together at the Cherokee Ingathering
Click here to see a photo album from the 2016 Thanksgiving Ingathering.
Several volunteers of all ages woke early on a Saturday to help package donations brought from about 100 churches across Northwest Iowa. School Kits, Flood Buckets, Layette Kits and more were assembled and loaded onto a truck for transportation to a depot in Louisiana.
“We have the Iowa Nigeria Partnership truck and UMCOR that we load, and it all goes down to a big depot in Louisiana,” said Veronica Timmerman, who has been helping the Northwest District Ingathering for 35 years. “They sort through it all and send it where it needs to go. During Katrina, they sent out a bunch of school kits, and my niece got a bunch of them. She lives and teaches school down there.”
The Cherokee site purchased 550 boxes this year and hopes to fill as many as last year. Timmerman said 548 boxes were filled at their site alone.
While the volunteers were packing, church members who donated went into the WIT Convention Center to see presentations from Heifer International and the PET project—two organizations that benefit from the Ingathering initiative.
About 150 people arrived for lunch and many stayed for the live quilt auction.
“We have a volunteer auctioneer that comes from LeMars every year to help with the quilt auction. He’s just a wonderful man and we really appreciate his help,” Timmerman said.
With the help of the animated auctioneer and District Superintendent Tom Carver, the quilts quickly came off the rack and were sold. The quilt that sold for the most came from Seney United Methodist Church and went for $320. It was a 72 x 80-inch quilt that was machine quilted, but church members spent weeks hand-embroidering roses onto it and even quilted hearts around each section of roses.
Many youths also participated in packing this year. They were not able to have a lock-in the night before as in previous years, but are hopeful to have some volunteers step up for next year.
“A lot of pastors bring kids from other places, like LeMars and Sibley and all around. It’s all the district working together,” Timmerman said.
When asked if volunteers will return next year, Timmerman laughed and said, “We think we’re getting too old for it, but who really wants to quit!”