How does one start a new ministry? Sometimes it is just a matter of offering to help existing ministries.
The California-Pacific Disaster Response Task Force recognized last fall that the humanitarian crisis on our southern border is a disaster in which our Task Force should be taking a more active role. The Disaster Response Task Force has since become more involved with the Cal-Pac Immigration Task Force in searching for ways to address the problems facing asylum seekers, immigrants and migrants.
The Lord must have heard the people crying out for help. This spring, the Disaster Response Task Force received a large donation of hotel hospitality items (shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, disposable razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc). What to do?
The idea was born to create toiletry kits to distribute to an organization that worked with displaced people. The UMCOR Program Director for Asylum Seekers who works with asylum seekers being released from the El Centro Detention Center, CA, was very willing to work with us. We provided toiletry kits for those being released and sent on their way to other destinations.
In working with the Asylum Seekers Director who is located in Calexico, CA, we found out that she is also helping a migrant shelter in Mexicali, Mexico. Mexicali is located across the border from Calexico. The toiletry kits and other supplies are now going to the shelter as well.
In addition, it came to light that the shelter was in great need of money for food and supplies for the migrants. They are currently housing 242 migrants men, women and children and providing three meals a day.
The Immigration Task Force and the Disaster Response Task Force worked together and came up with a plan to provide some funding for food for the shelter. Cross border work is extremely difficult at this time but we found a way to make it work.
The Christ Ministry Center in San Diego is the home for the Safe Harbor Network that provides temporary emergency shelter for documented refugees, immigrants, asylum seekers, especially women and children. When approached about receiving toiletry kits, they also said yes. A good working relationship has been developed with them. As a result, the Disaster Response Task Force has been able to respond to specific needs of the Safe Harbor Network such as feminine products.
The connectedness of the Methodist Church has been vital in promoting this ministry. There are now other churches interested in contributing to the toiletry kit ministry by creating similar kits. And we have a dedicated crew who deliver the kits and supplies.
To give to the Disaster Response Toiletry Kits fund, visit calpacumc.org/donate.
To learn more about the Task Force, visit calpacumc.org/disasterresponse/.