Churches can meet needs through Tools & Blankets
|A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey, UMCOR
Church World Services blankets are distributed worldwide to places such as Sudan's Darfur region.
March 6, 2006
NEW YORK (UMNS) — Last spring, the Rev.
Bill Alvey from Park United Methodist Church and the Rev. Stephen Broache
United Church of Christ in Madison, Ohio, had a conversation.
The two churches share a parking lot, and both congregations wanted to do
something to help people in need.
Familiar with the Church World Service Tools & Blankets program, the
two pastors decided to “blanket” the parking lot.
The lot measured roughly 104 by 108 feet, and a CWS blanket is 62 by 81
inches. That meant the two congregations had to raise enough money to buy
The blanket drive began on Mother’s Day and ended on Father’s
Day. The two small congregations raised funds for 309 blankets.
Congregations around the United Methodist Church
and in other denominations are using the Tools & Blankets program as
a way to help people in need. CWS, an ecumenical agency, is a partner of
the United Methodist Committee
In Rochester, N.Y., the Fairport-Perinton Lay
Clergy Council makes a community-wide Tools & Blankets offering a part
of its annual programming, raising more than $8,000 in 2005 and almost
the year before.
One congregation used the theme, “Blanket the World with Love,” emphasizing
the personal aspect of the program, which allows the giver to offer comfort
to someone in need across the world or closer to home. Throughout Advent,
a CWS blanket was draped in the rear of the sanctuary so people could pin
their contributions on it.
At another Perinton congregation, a speaker
and her daughter demonstrated the many ways the blanket could be used in
a disaster situation — as
a tent, a partition for privacy, a knapsack or bedding. The speaker concluded
by wrapping the blanket around her daughter, and together they walked down
the aisle of the church with baskets for donations.
A third congregation pitched the blanket as a tent with a volunteer sitting
in front of it, ready to hand out CWS brochures and answer questions about
the many places the blankets had been sent over the past year.
First United Methodist Church in DeSoto, Texas,
raised $935 during Lent to build a house as part of the CWS housing project
Shomali Valley. Families received a calendar with suggested daily amounts
to contribute through the Lenten season.
To assist local churches with raising donations, CWS has a variety of congregational
materials for the program, including:
- a CWS Tools & Blankets Guide with a “how to do it” action
- a four-page education/worship resource with
a Minute for Mission, prayers, children’s sermon and skits, bulletin
insert, and materials on the CWS Web program Build a Village;
- a poster and offering leaflet;
- a new Tools & Blankets video or DVD;
- a CD-Rom of all the resources,
including children’s activities and
ideas for special offerings on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s
and Father’s Day.
The new materials draw on the humanitarian
work in Indonesia, where CWS has been active since the 1960s and especially
since the December
More information on the Tools & Blankets
program is available online at www.churchworldservice.org or by calling (888) 297-2767.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.