Stories of Change
Top: Taylor Elementary students help assemble CWS Cleanup Buckets (photo by Rebecca Roetzel), Middle: Rebecca Roetzel volunteering at CWS Warehouse (photo by Craig Thomson), Bottom: Project Hope in New York (photo by Joel Edwards)
A Ripple of Love: Kits Behind the Scenes
A family is living in a temporary shelter after a disaster.
A refugee is arriving in their new home.
A neighbor is experiencing homelessness in the cold winter season.
In all of these situations–and many more–the CWS Kits and Blankets ministry is there to help.
From our CWS School Kits to our Emergency Cleanup Buckets, all our kits have one big thing in common: they are made with compassion and love. Without the support of our communities and congregations who put in countless hours to assemble our kits, we would not be able to reach tens of thousands of people every year.
Before a CWS Kit or Blanket reaches the hands of our program participants, it is carefully assembled by a volunteer who understands the importance of our kits and what they symbolize. One of our volunteers remarked, “what the backpack really does is symbolize hope; it symbolizes acceptance, and it symbolizes dignity as a human being.” Another volunteer told us, “we do this because we know it helps people in need.”
The love that is put into our kits during the assembly process is continued once they have reached our warehouses. Rev. Terry Kukuk from Presbytery of the Miami Valley shared, “to think that we have gotten a bucket that someone has prepared, prayed over and sent on, and we have received it, blessed it and sent it out… it becomes more than just a bucket; it becomes a bucket of hope.” Rev. David Mallory, CWS Kits Coordinator in North Carolina, added, “whoever assembled this, assembled it with love and care.”
This message of hope and support is one that our CEO, Rick Santos, shares when discussing the impact our kits have on our newest neighbors. He says, “many people cross the border with literally just the clothes on their backs. They don’t have clean water. They don’t have hand sanitizer, they don’t have– for women, for example- feminine hygiene products… When we have asylees crossing the border looking for refuge in the United States, we think that this backpack will help them, at least in the first week or so, to have enough things to survive.”
Our former Kits and Blankets Program Coordinator, Adam Myers, similarly discusses the importance of cleanup buckets for families that have been affected by a natural disaster. He says, “People are often in a condition in which they’ve lost everything… the Cleanup Buckets are one of the more expensive items. To source that yourself after you’ve gone through a disaster would be expensive, so that helps them get a head start on being able to reclaim their lives.”
Behind every kit and blanket, there is a prayerful and enthusiastic volunteer. Michelle White, who is Office Manager at Newman Congregational UCC in Rumford, RI, expresses her gratitude to volunteers and says, “by reaching out to help others you have created a ripple, an act of kindness which will no doubt spread the love we all need to be a part of.” We are thankful for our volunteer-led ripple of love that allows us to reach our most vulnerable neighbors throughout the world.