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Church Seeks Help Making Kits to Aid Hurricane Victims
By Rebecca Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
04:18PM / Saturday, September 16, 2017
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Donation bins sit on the front porch of the New Hope United Methodist Church offices on West Main Street.

Supplies wait to be assembled into 'flood buckets' for victims of West Virginia flooding in 2016.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Yes, there is something you can do to help the victims of the recent hurricanes.

The New Hope United Methodist Church is assembling "flood buckets," a 5-gallon bucket of items that people whose homes have been ravaged by flooding can use to aid their cleanup efforts. The national United Methodist Church's Committee on Relief has been assembling these kits for years now, according to local pastor Courtney Randall, and have determined the best way to package them and the most helpful contents.

Randall said New Hope contributions began a couple summers ago when children in the church's "Ready, Set, Serve" community service program for youths assembled buckets for victims of flooding in West Virginia.

"That's where the kids learned to pack the buckets," she said. "They do a really good job."

This time around, Randall is hoping to get broader community assistance with the kits. There are three ways you can help:

1. Donate supplies. A complete list of what is needed to fill a bucket can be found here and includes items like laundry detergent, clothespins, trash bags and insect repellent. Randall cautions that people must be aware of the correct sizes needed to avoid items that are too big to fit into the bucket. (The lid must be able to be snapped on the bucket in order for safe transit.) Most of the supplies can be purchased at hardware stores or WalMart. Supplies can be left in the bins on the front porch of the church offices at 550 West Main St. in North Adams, which is located on the east corner of Notch Road.

2. Come to the UNO Center on River Street at 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 24, and help assemble the buckets. New Hope will provide instructions as well as snacks for volunteers. The completed buckets will be sent to the local collection site in Springfield and from there will travel to distribution sites in Texas and Louisiana.

3. Donate money to the church so it can purchase items still needed to complete buckets, as a complete kit generally costs around $65. Checks can be sent to the church offices at 550 West Main St., North Adams, MA 01247. Randall can be reached via email for more information on contributing.

Randall said she emphasized to the children in the program — as well as to anyone else who wants to help — that it's important to learn what is helpful after a natural disaster — and what is harmful.

"People really want to help," said Randall, who added she learned that firsthand when she assisted with the Hurricane Katrina cleanup and spoke to families, including one who is living in a tree house. "What we really need is water and temporary housing," she said the family told her — not the myriad other items like stuffed animals and assorted clothing that well-meaning people were sending.

Besides containing very useful items, the flood buckets serve another purpose for the flood victims, who often feel overwhelmed and helpless trying to figure out how to put the pieces of their lives back together, Randall said.

"It helps empower people who receive them," she said.

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