Communities along the Ohio River often experience flooding during the spring and summer. Summer 2016 was no exception. Following heavy rains, the small town of Pomeroy, Ohio, once again was flooded. Basements of houses were flooded because of drainage problems. Several businesses around town temporally shut their doors. The Full Gospel Lighhouse Church was flooded due to their location at the bottom of a large hill.
Pomeroy is a generous community. Before the floods in their own community, they had shipped their last 13 cleanup buckets to their neighbors in West Virginia to help with the recovery efforts following flooding in that area. Now they didn’t have any supplies to start cleaning up in their own community.
Rev. David Maze, Chairman of the Festival of Sharing in Ohio, called Church World Service to request Cleanup Buckets for Pomeroy. For over 25 years, the Festival of Sharing in Ohio has assembled CWS Kits and shipped them to the Church of the Brethren Service in New Windsor, Maryland, to be used to respond to disasters.
“Many churches in this part of the state have been collecting kits for the Festival of Sharing for many years. It only seemed right that some of the cleanup buckets came right back here to Ohio,” said David.
Church World Service provided Cleanup Buckets to the Meigs Cooperative Parish in Pomeroy to assist with the cleanup efforts. The Meigs Co-op is sponsored by 23 congregations in Meigs County. They serve free lunches three days a week and offer summer reading programs for children, a community food pantry, a free laundromat and an emergency shelter with showers. They also teach family life skills and have a parish nurse.
Church World Service also provided School Kits for the Meigs Cooperative Parish to use for their Back to School Campaign. “We were able to provide 225 children with the supplies that they needed to start the new school year. That is the most children that we have ever been able to help at one time. We are thankful for the congregations that provided these school supplies for our children,” said Nancy Thoene, who oversees the programs at the Meigs Co-op.
In addition, Church World Service provided CWS Hygiene Kits that are distributed by the parish nurse and also at the food pantry for families in the community.
Dolores Will, a volunteer at the Meigs Co-op Ministry and a member of the New Beginnings United Methodist Church, was emotional when she heard that CWS was responding to the needs in her community. “Our church does so much to support the work of Church World Service. We are a small church, but we love CWS. We make kits for the Festival of Sharing each fall and we host a Blanket Sunday each February. It’s beautiful that you are giving back to our community. We really need the help,” she said.
In the words of Nancy Thoene, “We need to give people hope. We need to give them a hand up. Sometimes that’s all that needs to happen to make a difference in the lives of people.”