School kits enhance 'One Great Hour of Sharing'
3/19/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York
By United Methodist News ServiceCollecting
kits for the United Methodist Committee on Relief during annual
conference time has become a regular occurrence for United Methodists in
But last year, church members outdid themselves with a
special collection tied to the relief agency's "One Great Hour of
Sharing" offering in March.
The result was a total of 42,000
school kits that were shipped by UMCOR, in partnership with Church World
Service, to a school for Afghan refugees in Pakistan and to other
programs in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
associate council director for the Virginia Annual Conference, said
there was such "an amazing response" from the churches that chain stores
around the state were running out of pencils and packs of crayons as
the materials for the kits were gathered.
The 2003 offering for
"One Great Hour of Sharing" is set for March 30, although donations are
accepted throughout the year. The money raised enables UMCOR - which
receives no income from the denomination's World Service Fund or other
apportionments - to do its work and also supports the agency's core
"Your gifts not only keep UMCOR's lights on and UMCOR's
delivery system in place at home and around the world, they also enable
us to respond immediately to disasters," wrote the Rev. Paul Dirdak, the
agency's chief executive, about the 2003 offering. "Your contributions
also assist UMCOR's programs that have not been fully funded through
designated Advance gifts."
When Virginian United Methodists
wanted to respond to the situation in Afghanistan, Honeycutt asked UMCOR
for advice, and the idea of a school kit collection was born. "We did
it in conjunction with One Great Hour of Sharing, hoping that would
encourage churches that had not taken up an offering â€¦ to do that as
well," she explained.
The project was so popular that even some
local elementary and high schools, along with the denomination's family
services program in Richmond, decided to participate.
were dedicated at donor churches on the day of the offering. Then, over
the next two days, congregations brought their kits to one of four
collection sites across the conference. On the third day, four trucks
picked up the kits to transport them to shipping locations.
of the kits went to the Nazoo Anna Education Center in Peshawar,
Pakistan. Nazaneen Jabarkhil started the school in her home to assist
Afghan refugee girls who had fled after the Soviet invasion of
Afghanistan in 1980. Today, the English-language-based school has some
Students responded to the generosity with letters,
which were forwarded to the conference by UMCOR. The "thank yous" made
an additional impact on church members, according to Honeycutt. "I have
since been in churches across the conference where they have read these
letters back to the congregation," she said.
For example, a
seventh-grade student named Mursal noted that her family had been
refugees for 11 years. "I want to be a very famous and kind doctor in
the future, but sometimes I think this is a dream because of our
economical problems," she wrote.
Meena, a ninth-grader, explained
that refugees "need a pillar to lean on, and this is of course provided
by the kind well-wishers of us which consists of you. We are really
thankful for that."
A high schooler named Najia called Nazoo Anna
"the school which gives beautiful dreams to all Afghan refugees and
makes their dreams come true."
UMCOR continues to collect a
variety of types of kits for its work around the world. More
information, along with lists of items needed for the kits, can be found
online at http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/kits.cfm.
on One Great Hour of Sharing also is available online at
http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/oghs.stm, on UMCOR's Web pages.
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