BLOG: Filling Their Buckets Filled Our Hearts

Members from Cedar Grove United Methodist Church in Deale felt called to action in the wake of the superstorm known as Hurricane Sandy.  Parishioners turned to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

UMCOR is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to alleviating human suffering around the globe. UMCOR’s work reaches people in more than 80 countries, including in the United States. They provide humanitarian relief when war, conflict, or natural disaster disrupts life to such an extent that those communities are unable to recover on their own.

UMCOR is a ministry of the United Methodist Church, and their goal is to assist the most vulnerable persons affected by crisis or chronic need without regard to their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

After investigating different ways thatthe  Cedar Grove community could help those affected by Sandy, we decided that we would take a hands-on approach as a lesson in cooperation—which happened to be the children’s ministry virtue of the month. We decided to assemble flood cleanup buckets that would be distributed to Sandy victims by UMCOR.

“Initially, we set a goal of 20 buckets,” explained Mike Bennett, Pastor of Cedar Grove. “We thought that putting  several  items used to clean up flood conditions in a bucket would be the lesson in cooperation.”

UMCOR gave us specific bucket requirements. Sharon Staley, Sunday School superintendent for Cedar Grove wholeheartedly backed the idea.  She offered to use money from her Sunday School budget and thought it would be a great idea to put it out to the congregation for their support.

Members of Cedar Grove were asked to sponsor buckets, which have an estimated cost of $55 each, according to UMCOR.  The word was spread in the church bulletin, through newsletters and on the church’s Facebook page.

It wasn’t long before contributions began to come in.

“The response was amazing,” Pastor Mike said.

To defray expenses in order to build even more buckets, Cedar Grove UMC reached out to local businesses to see if they would be interested in donating items for the buckets.

Christopher’s Fine Foods in Churchton not only donated items to fill one bucket, they also very generously committed to donating their delicious, freshly made donuts to Cedar Grove UMC to be enjoyed the morning of the bucket assembly.

Do It Best Hardware in Deale contributed cases of items for the buckets in a shopping cart so full, it was overflowing. Between the generosity of people sponsoring buckets and businesses donating items, it was obvious cooperation was going to get us more than twenty buckets.

Cedar Grove UMC, through cooperation from the congregation, the community, local businesses and even a few long distance friends, assembled 102 flood buckets!

On the morning of the bucket assembly, children were asked to decorate a sheet of paper with a picture and encouraging words like “thinking of you” to be taped on the buckets.  On the other side of the buckets, a message from Cedar Grove UMC was displayed, “From our hearts to your hands,” it read.

Because of the volume of buckets, we decided that the adult Sunday School classes would also help the kids. In addition, many members of Cedar Grove UMC were there to help with the assembly.

“I was concerned that we would not be able to put over a hundred buckets together during the Sunday School hour.  I thought we might have to reconvene after worship to finish putting them together,” Pastor Mike confided.

Through cooperation, the buckets were assembled quickly, and even loaded in the vehicles to deliver them to the UMCOR hub (St. Matthew’s UMC in Bowie), leaving plenty of time to enjoy the fresh donuts provided by Christopher’s before the 10 a.m. worship service.

“We delivered the buckets to St. Matthews and put them right on a truck that was headed for Staten Island, NY.  It felt amazing to realize that the buckets were going directly to those in such desperate need,” Pastor Mike said. ”And in setting out to teach the children a lesson in cooperation, we ALL realized that together we could do more than we can do alone.

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