Volunteers help pack child care materials


Special to the Advocate

About 50 volunteers worked through the day Feb. 11 in an unheated warehouse in Jackson, to unpack, sort and repack batches of books and supplies for inland early childhood programs hit by Hurricane Katrina.

“It’s mind boggling – everything that has been given and everything that was lost,” Elaine Owens of Jackson said as she surveyed towering shelves of art supplies, stacked crates of books, and mounds of new stuffed toy animals.

Volunteers from several Mississippi towns and cities packed materials into teacher resource kits, assessment kits, and curriculum materials for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

The volunteers came from Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church and Christ UMC in Jackson; Pine Lake Baptist Church in Brandon; Tupelo First UMC; Parkway Height UMC in Hattiesburg; and the Mississippi Early Childhood Association. Catholic Charities in Jackson has provided storage space for the materials.

“We could not have gotten these materials ready for the early childhood programs without the help of the many Methodists who worked in our warehouse,” said Cathy Grace, professor and director of the Mississippi State University Early Childhood Institute.

The donated materials were from children and teachers around the country as well as from manufacturers, publishers and distributors in response to calls for help from Embrace Mississippi’s Children, a coalition that formed  after the hurricane to rebuild damaged and destroyed early childhood programs in Mississippi.

Connie Clay, director of the Rebuilding After Katrina initiative of the ECI, said the curriculum materials will go to programs in five counties north of the three hardest-hit counties on the Gulf Coast. The teacher resource and assessment kits will go to programs in all eight counties. The W. K. Kellogg Foundation funded Rebuilding After Katrina.