Pray, Pack and Give


Members of Laredo United Methodist Church assemble relief-supply kits. Photo: Paul Harris
By Susan Kim, contributor to

Steven Matthews is not looking for recognition, he’s looking for people to join him as he gathers United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) relief-supply kits from churches in his region and trucks them to UMCOR West. This depot in Salt Lake City, Utah, stores relief supplies and ships them out quickly to people in need all over the world.

“My goal is to get more supplies to UMCOR,” said Matthews. “I would like to get more people and more churches involved.”

Matthews, a member of Coburg United Methodist Church in Oregon — about seven miles from the city of Eugene — creates a schedule with churches in the region and with UMCOR West to deliver relief-supply kits to the depot by the truckload. After thousands of kits and thousands of miles, he shows up at UMCOR West to see volunteers who are happily helping.

“The last time I was there, a couple weeks ago,” he recalls, “there was a family reunion going on. There were children age five all the way up to grandmothers. They were putting together kits. It’s amazing, when I go into the warehouse to meet the people, it strikes me how happy they are. I believe that the good Lord made us that way; we are happier when we are helping someone.”

Building the team

Matthews is one among many volunteers across the nation who are raising awareness and strengthening our United Methodist connections, notes Hannah Hanson, UMCOR’s church relations manager. “We have a network of people who care and who get their communities excited,” she explains. “UMCOR is able to help all over the globe because we have volunteers and caring friends who want to have fun while doing good in the world.”

Matthews works hard as he hauls thousands of kits a year to the depot, but he finds fun in the process, “The closer you get to your church family, the more fun you have,” he says, urging churches to gather and assemble kits, then watch what happens when they sit side by side and work together.

Matthews would like to expand his kit-collecting route with more “hubs,” or areas where kits can be temporarily stored until he arrives to haul them to the depot.

Be the person who gets your church involved, he says. “At Coburg United Methodist Church, we didn't stop collecting school supplies until my truck was full.”