‘A practical way to help’

Published 9:20 pm Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Church collects cleaning kit donations for Harvey victims

Albert Lea United Methodist Church is collecting donations for cleaning kits for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

The church is working with the United Methodist Church Committee on Relief to deliver the supplies.

The Rev. John Mitchem of the local congregation said the United Methodist Church Committee on Relief is the disaster response arm for the church, which is known to be one of the first on the scene after a disaster and the last to leave.

The same relief organization was in Albert Lea last fall to assist in flood cleanup, and people with the organization plan to be in Texas not only for the response and recovery phase, but the rebuilding phase as well, he said.

For many people, the struggle after the flooding will be when they move back into their house or business, and they will often have to take their walls down to the studs.

“People won’t lose their houses because of the flood,” he said. “They’ll lose them because of the mold. The cleaning kits are a practical way we can help.”

A cleaning kit is valued at $65 and includes various supplies such as sponges, gloves, soaps and trash bags, to name a few. – Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

Mitchem said many times after a disaster, people wonder how they can give to people in need.

“Sending a truckload of clothes is not helpful,” Mitchem said. “Cleaning buckets have been proven to be helpful. They’ve been doing this for decades.”

The cleaning kits are valued at $65 and include everything from liquid laundry detergent, household cleaner, dish soap, sponges, trash bags, cleaning wipes, gloves and scouring pads, to name a few items. All items are packed into a five-gallon bucket.

All items must be new except for the actual bucket and lid. Buckets from fast-food restaurants or bakeries can be used if washed and cleaned, and no buckets that have stored chemicals or paint should be used.

Mitchem said as a former youth pastor, he is excited about the opportunity to teach the children and teenagers at the church how to care for others. The youth will be assembling the buckets for delivery.

He estimated the people in Texas would go through tens of thousands of kits.

It is the Albert Lea church’s goal to send 100 cleaning kits.

Buckets will be collected through Sept. 17. Donations can be brought to the church from 8:30 a.m. to  noon Monday through Friday at 702 Highway 69 S.

If people would rather make a cash donation, they are asked to make checks payable to Albert Lea United Methodist Church and mark “UMCOR” in the memo lines.

Those funds will be sent directly to the relief committee.

Cleaning kit materials

• One 5-gallon bucket with resealable lid

• 50-ounce or two 25-ounce bottles liquid laundry detergent

• 12 to 16-ounce liquid household cleaner

• 16 to 28-ounce bottle dish soap

• 50 clothespins

• One 100-foot or two 50-foot clotheslines (cotton or plastic)

• Seven sponges removed from packaging

• 24-roll heavy-duty trash bags (33- to 45-gallon size removed from box)

• 18 cleaning wipes

• One can air freshener (aerosol or pump)

• One insect-repellant 6- to 14-ounce aerosol or pump spray

• Two pairs kitchen dishwashing gloves

• One pair work gloves (all cotton, all leather or cotton with leather palm)

• Five scouring pads (removed from wrapper; nothing with soap built in)

• One scrub brush with a plastic or wood handle

• Five dust masks