Church World Service issues emergency call for Hygiene Kits and Baby Care Kits

People urged to contribute disaster kits during National Day of Service

NEW YORK - As the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service on January 18 approaches, humanitarian agency Church World Service is encouraging people to respond to the day's call by contributing donations and community volunteer work dedicated to relief efforts for survivors of the January 12 earthquake in Haiti.

New York-headquartered Church World Service has issued an urgent national appeal for donations of CWS Hygiene and Baby Care Kits, asking individuals, families and religious and civic groups to join in local efforts to assemble CWS Kits for distribution to survivors of the earthquake and other global disasters.

With hundreds of thousands of people homeless in Haiti following the devastating earthquake, the agency says the need for Kits is immediate.  Supplies and hygiene and medical resources of all kinds still are desperately lacking in the country.

“When a disaster like the earthquake in Haiti hits, we have to replenish supplies very quickly so that we can both assist survivors and also have supplies on hand to help victims of other disasters that might occur,” said Rev. John McCullough, Executive Director and CEO of Church World Service.

While the assembling of Hygiene and Baby Care Kits is a project tailor-made for the National Day of Service, particularly at a time when Haitian earthquake survivors are in desperate need of basic necessities, it actually is a year-round activity for Church World Service supporters.  The Kits make their way from the hands of volunteers to the agency’s warehouse in New Windsor, Maryland, where they are inspected and finally shipped.

“We have groups in churches, mosques, temples and other civic organizations throughout the country that assemble Hygiene Kits and other Kits on an ongoing basis.  That helps assure that there always are thousands of them ready to be shipped to people living in poverty and people stripped of all their possessions in disasters,” said Cindy Watson, Associate for Congregational Programs at Church World Service.

The Kits are a small but vital part of the emergency relief, sustainable development and refugee assistance CWS has provided over its more than 60 years of service.

The one-gallon-bag-sized packets of hygiene and baby care supplies, or School Kits for young students, are an important lifeline for people with little or nothing as they cope in the aftermath of disaster.  A toothbrush, a comb and bar of soap, or diapers and a baby blanket seem like priceless gifts.

CWS has provided Kits to help survivors of disastrous situations ranging from Hurricane Katrina to the Indian Ocean tsunami and the war in Iraq.

In 2009 alone, Church World Service shipped 288,745 Hygiene Kits, Baby Care Kits, School Kits and Emergency Clean-up Buckets - with a value of $413,295.50 - to 17 countries and to several U.S. states ravaged by floods, tornadoes and spring storms.

“We could not provide this assistance without the generous contributions of people eager to lend a helping hand.  For years we’ve been fortunate in having churches, temples, mosques, youth groups and civic organizations all across the United States come together with friends and neighbors to assemble all kinds of CWS Kits,” said McCullough.

In a situation like Haiti, McCullough added, “It’s better to donate cash, rather than contributing material goods.  But still, people want to give of themselves, to give something they’ve touched, in addition to their cash donations.  In this economy, where many Americans are pressed financially, collecting the small items for emergency kits and assembling them in a group, is one way to fill both the heart’s needs and the needs of the survivors.

“The National Day of Service in honor of Dr. King’s legacy presents an opportunity for individuals, congregations and groups who havent been involved before to answer the call to action by taking on the assembling of kits as a service project on January 18 and beyond,” McCullough said.  “This is a way for all of us to reach out with a simple gesture of love and care.”

Each CWS Hygiene Kit is valued at $10 and Baby Care Kits are valued at $39.  Contributors are also asked to send an additional $2 per Kit for processing and shipping.

Information about the CWS Kit program, including Kit component lists, direct shipping or pick-up instructions is available online at, or call Church World Service, toll-free (888) 297-2767.

Or, to make a contribution, you can send your donation to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN, 46515, call us at (800) 297-1516, or make a donation online.


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