On Sunday, the church members came. Before them, lined up in the fellowship hall, were 5-gallon buckets, trash bags and cleaning supplies.
No, they weren’t coming to clean up the church.
The members of First Presbyterian Church in Hays were ready to begin packing cleanup buckets to send to the victims of three recent deadly hurricanes — Harvey, Irma and Maria.
The church in Hays has joined other churches in the Presbytery of Northwest Kansas in the relief effort. It is part of the response coordinated by the international Presbyterian Disaster Assistance project, said the Rev. Celeste Lasich, pastor of the church in Hays.
The PDA works closely with the Red Cross and other relief agencies on the ground immediately after a natural disaster strikes, she said. In addition to transporting the cleanup kits, PDA teams “are also providing spiritual and psychological assistance” and helping victims with such practical things as how to fill out the mounds of insurance forms.
From Hays, the buckets will be transported to Salina, and then to drop-off points across the storm-ravaged areas “wherever they are needed most.” Every day the drop-off sites change, Lasich said, depending upon where the floodwaters have receded enough for relief workers to enter.
The Hays church still is collecting the following new, unopened materials: A 5-gallon bucket with re-sealable lid; one scrub brush; one package of 18 reusable cleaning towels (such as Handi Wipes); one box of dry laundry detergent, 50 to 78 ounces; one bottle of liquid concentrated household cleaner, 12 ounces (such as Lysol); one bottle of liquid disinfectant dish soap, 24 to 28 ounces (such as Dawn); five dust masks; one package of 48 to 50 clothespins; clotheslines, either two 50-foot lines or one 100-foot line; two pairs of latex gloves (such as Playtex); one pair of work gloves; one roll of 24 to 28 heavy-duty trash bags, 30 to 45 gallon size (remove from carton); five scouring pads; seven sponges of assorted sizes; one bottle of insect repellant in either pump, drops or lotion — no aerosol cans — 6 to 9 ounce size.
All liquids need to be in plastic bottles. Each bucket has a retail value of $75. The church has met its initial goal of packing 25 buckets, Lasich said, adding the church is continuing to accept monetary donations, as well as cleaning supplies.
They can be dropped off at the church, 2900 Hall, during normal business hours Monday through Friday.
Lasich emphasized people should not feel that they have to purchase items for an entire bucket.
“Any of these supplies are appreciated,” she said.
Lasich said it was quite a sight watching church members pack the buckets in an assembly-line fashion Sunday after church. Because all of the preceding items have to fit into one bucket, there is an exact order as to how the materials must be packed.
“The things we are sending are things they (the hurricane victims) can’t even get hold of right now,” Lasich said.
One of those on the packing assembly line was Jodi Baumgarn of Hays, who went to Moore, Okla., to assist tornado victims there a few years ago.
She said packing the buckets was “a neat way for people to get involved, even in a small way. It raises awareness,” she said, “and makes us mindful of our blessings, and we have so many.”
Lasich said the PDA will be sending work crews into the stricken areas in the future, and she expects members of First Presbyterian will go.
PDA teams often stay in an area for years.
“We don’t leave until the work is done,” she said, adding there still are teams in New Orleans working with victims of Hurricane Katrina, which struck that city in 2005.