The success of last year's disaster clothing drive has earned Blanco County a request to expand its effort this year.
Last year, we filled to overflowing the second-largest trailer the warehouse had, so this year they're sending their big one -- a 53-foot semi-trailer, and they're leaving it parked at the First United Methodist Church in Johnson City so it can be loaded as donations arrive, rather than have to move all the bags and boxes a second time.
Having the big trailer on site also means they can accept more types of items than last year, such as shoes, toys, furniture and other household items needed by disaster survivors.
"Most of our work is with the used clothing," said Frank Jeys of the Seventh-day Adventist Church's disaster relief operation, "but if we can get other things, too, they won't go to waste. It's certainly better than throwing away usable items."
Local churches in Blanco County collect the donations and consolidate them at the Methodist Church in Johnson City, then they are taken to the Adventists' warehouse in Alvaredo, near Dallas, where they are sorted, sanitized, packaged and stored until there's a disaster with an immediate call for clothing for survivors. Then the truck rolls within hours, and by morning the distribution is under way.
"It's so much more efficient than trying to organize a used clothing drive after the disaster happens," explained co-coordinator Dawn Capra, of Johnson City's First Christian Church. "It takes time to put a drive like that together, then collect and deliver the clothing, and by that time the need often has passed.
"This way, the work is done in advance, and we know our help will arrive while it's still needed, whenever that may be."
Another advantage is broadening the types of goods that can be accepted, thanks to the larger trailer.
"This will let us expand the help we give to people hit by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes," said JoAnn Routh, the co-coordinator from the Methodist Church.
"We know they need clean clothes right away...but people who had to make their way to an emergency shelter may not have brought the kinds of shoes they need, or toys for the children. We can even take rags, and clothing too torn up to wear," Routh added, "if they're boxed or bagged separately and clearly marked as rags."
"And once survivors get past the immediate clean-up and repairs, they'll need to replace furniture and other household items, so the truck can make a second delivery of furniture and household items when they're ready for that," Routh said.
Blanco County's expanded Memorial Day disaster clothing drive is collecting used clothing, shoes, toys and furniture at the Activity Building, 6th Street and Pecan, behind the First United Methodist Church in Johnson City. The trailer will be open for donations from 9 to 5 Saturday and Monday, and from 1 to 5 Sunday.
To volunteer to spend an hour or two at the collection point receiving donations, call Routh at 868-2581, Capra at 512-577-4833, or Angie in the church office at 868-7414.