February 9, 2011

CWS Kits: 'This is a sacred task'

Kits Pictures
Kits assembled by community groups and churches in the U.S. are shipped where needed around the world. Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, N.J. (left) used its Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service to assemble CWS Kits. Meanwhile, a child displaced by the Mt. Merapi volcano eruption in Indonesia takes receipt of a CWS School and Hygiene Kit. Photo: Nassau Presbyterian Church; Matt Hackworth, CWS.

By Cindy Watson/CWS

As full-time residents on an island in Alaska, I think the people of Sitka are hearty survivalists.  They understand being prepared in an emergency.  Perhaps that’s why this community identified so closely with the concept of a CWS Kit.  A note about the kits they recently shipped to our warehouse in Arkansas explains:

Ours is a small congregation on an island, but we wanted to do something in the way of Mission… To make the kits, it was the most costly for us, as we had no cloth diapers, no baby pins, no infant shirts available in our town, and few of the other baby items needed to complete the kits.  Living on an island has its disadvantages and many of the items we sent were purchased in Juneau, our capital, when one of our ladies was over there shopping.

We had a dedication of the kits in church on Sunday, explaining to the young girls who assisted that this was a sacred task...

It’s a sacred task that started in a supermarket or box-style store any of us frequent.  Building CWS Kits now, in advance of an emergency situation, helps us be prepared when disaster strikes.  Sending CWS Hygiene, Baby Care or School Kits is one of the first ways we respond in a disaster.  It’s what other agencies look to us to provide as a part of the effort to meet the incredible needs of someone who, very truly, may have lost everything.

The CWS Kit Program is a hands-on program for any group, or on which various groups can work together.  These kits are small packages of supplies assembled by volunteers and shipped to people in need in the U.S. and around the world.  The contents of each kit have been carefully selected based upon years of experience to make them as useful as possible wherever and whenever they are sent.  What’s more, with the different kinds of kits, there’s something for everyone:

  • The CWS School Kit is one of our most-needed kits.  Research – and more than 65 years of experience – shows us that providing children stability and predictability after a disaster helps stop the long-term effects of trauma.  Crayons, pencils and pencil sharpener, eraser, spiral notebooks, blunt scissors and ruler are the components that fit inside a cloth bag.
  • Our Hygiene Kit never goes out of style and is our most-used Kit.  Imagine a tornado or hurricane wiping away everything around you.  These simple components – a hand towel, washcloth, bar of soap, toothbrush, nail clippers, comb, and a few Band-Aids® – are a welcome gift to those trying to recover.
  • A Baby Care Kit is an incredible gift to a new mother.  Diapers, t-shirts, washcloths, gowns, sweater, blankets, and diaper pins are all it takes to complete this precious kit.  What a great project for a women’s group looking to make a difference.
  • The Emergency Clean-up Bucket is a great family, community group or all-church project.  The supplies in the bucket are a welcome boost to a family working to clean out their home following a flood that has left so much for them to do.  One bucket has plenty of supplies to get a family started.


As an alternative, or if hands-on isn’t your style, consider giving the gift of a kit online, perhaps in someone’s honor.  Do you want to honor someone special for Mother’s Day? Give a Baby Care Kit!

During 2010, some 280,000 CWS Kits were sent to partner agencies in the U.S. and around the world.  When disasters strike in the U.S. or overseas, CWS is there, providing for emergency needs through your contributions of Hygiene Kits, School Kits, Baby Care Kits, and Emergency Clean-up Buckets.  We need your help to keep us prepared for the next emergency.

We may not have the scenery or ferry rides of Sitka to enjoy while searching out supplies, but I hope we all find the common resolve that building a CWS Kit, helping us prepare for the next emergency, is a sacred task.

Cindy Watson is Associate for Congregational Programs.
Please visit www.churchworldservice.org/kits to see how you can get involved.