Western Manitoulin makes hygiene kits for needy families across the globe

A group of 28 people from Western Manitoulin display the 121 hygiene kits they made earlier this week, to be distributed to those in need in countries around the world, including Canada and the US. PHOTO BY PAUL McALISTER

MELDRUM BAY – The compassion of residents of Meldrum Bay and indeed all points west on Manitoulin Island was again shown this past Monday as a group of 28 people joined together to make 121 hygiene kits to be distributed to those in need in countries around the world.

“The turnout of people to help make the kits really shows the compassion and capacity of the community,” stated Jan Joyce, one of the key organizers of the project. “As a church we wanted to take a leadership role and offer local and area residents an opportunity to help out.”
“Its through the church that wanted to take this leadership, (St. Andrew’s United Church, Meldrum Bay), that this project was initiated,” said Ms. Joyce. “We wanted to do something that would provide the community an opportunity to help in a tangible way to international relief.” 

She explained the local church partnered with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to make the hygiene kits. “They (MCC) do a whole bunch of different stuff, they have kits made up for education, sewing and many, many more. And they do these kits by the thousands. They support refugee camps, where some of these kits will probably be going, and areas where there have been natural disasters or war, fires, floods, and to child orphanages.”

“They provided 69,000 hygiene kits last year and we’re supporting the project this year,” said Ms. Joyce. The kits help people in many countries including Jordan, Bosnia, Haiti, North Korea, Ukraine, Iraq, Zambia, Lebanon, Burkina Faso as well as Canada and the United States. She pointed out the list of countries will probably include the Bahamas this year. 

Ms. Joyce explained, the local group started the process of making the kits, “starting with materials and sewing them, putting in the draw strings and filling the hygiene kits with items.”

The work was carried out in the Meldrum Bay Community Hall, which was a busy place Monday. “There were 10 sewing machines going (on one level of the church) and those working on putting them together and filling the kits,” said Ms. Joyce.

She pointed out two sessions have been completed, with 198 kits in total having been completed. “I am so pleased with the support of the community members and the church,” she said, noting the group Monday also included people from Silver Water and Elizabeth Bay, joining Meldrum Bay residents. “The turnout of people really shows the capacity and compassion of the entire (Western Manitoulin) community.”

The beautiful, colourful hygiene kits include several items: a hand towel, toothbrush, soap, comb and nail clippers. More as is required is put in the kits once they reach MCC headquarters. “The kits are of good size, so more items can be put in them as needed,” said Ms. Joyce. 

The hygiene kits will be going to the MCC headquarters in Kitchener-Waterloo. They will then be boxed for shipping.