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Church gives Sandy victims a reason for thanks

(Jeff Engelhardt – jengelhardt@shawmedia.com)
Russ Ziegler, of Ideal Industries, loads relief buckets into a trailer as Glen Stewart (in the trailer) and Bud Ritter (left), of United Methodist Committee on Relief, organize them.

Times have not been easy for residents on the East Coast since Hurricane Sandy, but Bill Landis is hoping a gift from the Sycamore area will give them something to be thankful for this holiday season.

Landis, pastor at Sycamore United Methodist Church, has teamed with Ideal Industries and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to provide flood buckets and needed supplies to help with the rebuilding efforts.

Ideal Industries will donate 960 of those five-gallon buckets, which will be filled with supplies donated by residents or purchased with monetary donations people have made. Landis said one of the many great features of UMCOR is every penny donated for a cause goes toward that project as overhead and other administrative costs are covered by Methodist churches’ regular offerings.

“It’s just one of those neat ways people can come together at the right moment,” Landis said.

Landis became involved in the project after speaking with UMCOR volunteer Glen Stewart who mentioned two of the organization’s seven national distribution and relief centers had sent all of their flood buckets to the East Coast, but thousands more were needed.

As with relief efforts during Hurricane Katrina, Landis said Ideal Industries was willing to assist in a major way. UMCOR efforts have become a major mission for the church, with a group of members visiting Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, La., each year and frequently helping the Midwest Distribution Center in Chatham, Landis said.

Stewart, who volunteers out of Paw Paw, came to pick up the buckets Wednesday and drop them off at the distribution center. He said he enjoys helping and is amazed at the amount of community support, noting his church recently donated about 175 pounds of materials as well.

“It’s really helpful when places like Ideal Industries donate almost 1,000 buckets,” Stewart said. “Those are very essential.”

Even small donations, Landis said, turn into a large contribution because of UMCOR’s reach. Charitable organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Buffett Foundation regularly offer matching funds and sometimes double or quadruple donations, Landis said.

“I always tell someone who ends up giving $10 here that it can end up being $100,” Landis said. “Because of (UMCOR’s) reputation, we have all kinds of foundations that will back us.”

Landis said those interested can still donate either money or materials to the project. The church is donating cleaning buckets, which include sponges, towels, work gloves, laundry detergent and household cleaners. A full list of materials can be found at www.umcor.org.

Anyone who would like to help with the fuel costs for transportation of the materials can send donations to Sycamore United Methodist Church, 160 Johnson Ave., Sycamore, IL 60178. Checks should be made out to Sycamore UMC with Hurricane Sandy Relief on the purpose line.  

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