Women of the ELCA have kept a long-standing tradition of providing support to people in need in a host city of their triennial gatherings. That tradition was not broken at the Ninth Triennial Gathering of Women of the ELCA, held July 24-27, 2014, in Charlotte, N.C., when 2,000 women attending the gathering contributed “in-kind” gifts to support local organizations striving to meet the needs of families experiencing poverty.
During the time of this gathering, women contributed $14,785 in gift cards; 15,877 minutes in phone cards; 6,635 toilette items; 3,717 pair of socks and underwear; 118 quilt kits; 116 quilts; and 1,508 prayer shawls. At the “quilting cottage,” women made quilts to be sent overseas. The cottage is part of “The Dor” where women gathered to create, shop, gather and listen as an expression of the gathering’s theme, “of many generations.” “Dor” means “generation” in Hebrew.
“Women have been dropping, counting, sorting and organizing gifts in boxes to be sent to local ministries,” said Gail Starr, a volunteer at the gathering. Attending the gathering with her mom, sister and others, Gail said Women of the ELCA has a tradition of “focusing on families who live in poverty. While many of us have these items at home, there are many who don’t.”
Gail said that items like phone and store gift cards are not available at shelters, as well as the donation of new things like shoes, clothing and more. “It’s good to get something new along with a thought of (goodwill) behind it,” she said, adding that “a person’s dignity is worth a lot.”
“The collection of these things teaches us the value of sharing, caring and just to be about helping one another,” said Gail. “We are all God’s children, even if we don’t know one another. I also believe that the helplessness experienced by people can be combated if we just cared a little bit more. That’s why I’m here.”
Agencies receiving Women of the ELCA in-kind gifts are The Legacy Hall program of Florence Crittenton Services; The Journey Place program of The Relatives; Faith Farm of Lutheran Services Carolinas; Lutheran World Relief; and Lily Pad Haven.
Melissa Ramirez Cooper/ELCA News Service