Last year, Blanco County residents filled a trailer with used clothing for disaster relief, so this year they sent a bigger trailer. A reeaally big trailer.
“We didn’t completely fill this one,” admitted co-coordinator JoAnn Routh, “but we came pretty close, and we certainly beat last year’s collection.”
The 53-foot semi trailer spent the Memorial Day holiday weekend parked at the First United Methodist Church in Johnson City, where generous residents came by to deliver used clothing and other goods to be distributed to survivors of the next disaster.
The trailer belongs to the Texas Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, who took it and its cargo back to their warehouse in Alvarado, just south of Dallas, to be sorted, sanitized, packaged and held for the next call for emergency clothing. Then they can deliver a truckload overnight to a disaster site.
“This works so much better than trying to launch a clothing drive after the disaster happens,” explained Frank Jeys of Bandera, this area’s clothing collection organizer for the Adventist church. “We can have these clothes delivered before anyone can launch a collection after-the-fact.”
Many such spur-of-the-moment collections arrive too late to be used, and just add to the waste in the disaster area. This way, the truck can be rolling already before we see the tornado or flood story on television.
“Working in advance like this also lets our local churches and other organizations pull together,” said Pastor Ernest Topper of the First Christian Church in Johnson City.
“Working together breaks down the artificial barriers that sometimes grow up between churches when we don’t talk to each other as much as we should. We can accomplish a lot more by working together than we ever could working separately.”
The Rev. Lee Romero, pastor of the First United Methodist Church in JC, agreed.
“In the earliest years of the church, when Christians were figuring out what a church ought to be and do, one thing they agreed on was clothing those in need, and people whose homes and belongings have just been destroyed are certainly in need.”
Although they didn’t pack this larger trailer this year, the coordinators already are planning a bigger collection next time.
“We need to get more churches and other organizations involved, and start getting the word out earlier,” said Dawn Capra, co-coordinator of the drive.
“With the semi-annual ESA sale ended, people will need a place to take their used clothing, furniture and household items, and we can provide that outlet for them. Instead of re-selling everything, though, we’ll pass it on to folks who need it a lot more than any of us do.
“Every time we see a story in the news about a disaster somewhere in the country, we’ll know we did the right thing by joining the Adventists in being prepared for it, and we’ll know our donations are on their way.”