By Fred Koenig
As the Missouri Conference is beginning to assist local churches that want to send mission teams to Puerto Rico or support recovery projects there financially, some United Methodists in the Missouri have come into providential ways to help Puerto Ricans displaced by last year’s hurricane.
Missouri Star Quilt Company in Hamilton started out as a family business and grew to become Internet famous through quilting videos on Youtube. Last year when they put out a call for quilt donations to help people affected by hurricanes, their quilting viewers responded by the thousands. Most of those went to Houston, but many remained to fill an unmet need.
Carol Henderson and Courtney Fish Hughes, who both work at Missouri Star, asked their pastor at Hamilton UMC, Rev. Jenn Klein, if she knew of how they might be put to use. Klein contacted Dedera and Dawn Tucker, former members of her previous church (Country Club UMC in Kansas City) who had moved to Orlando. The mission director at their church (Saint Luke’s UMC – Orlando) put them in touch with a pastor at Kissimmee UMC, who is part of a Florida Conference initiative that is working with 3,000 Puerto Rican children in Orlando who were temporarily displaced there due to the hurricane. Quilts were greatly needed.
“I was really concerned about this being ‘toxic charity’ and did not want to dump an unneeded donation on someone and create additional work for them.
Fortunately, this was just the opposite. As soon as I made the connection and told him what we had, he said ‘How soon can you be here?’” said Klein.
The answer was soon. It wasn’t long before Klein and her husband Rusty were driving a truck loaded with 4,200 quilts to Florida. Quilts for the Puerto Rican youth were distributed through schools and a youth shelter. Quilts were also taken to a women’s shelter and a hospital.
When making the deliveries, it was clear to Klein how much the quilts were appreciated.
“Every place we took them, it was like Christmas Day when we arrived,” Klein said.
Klein marvels how the spirit moved through the connectional church to pair the ability to give with people in need.
“To me this was a clear sign of the holy tenacity of Jesus,” Klein said. “It was a bunch of holy people wanting to work together, and it would not have happened if God hadn’t woven us together.”