Point of View: Hygiene kits keep making a difference for refugees on southern border

A much belated thank you to those who are making a difference at our nation’s southern border. About 15 people showed up at Grace Ridge Brewing July 29 to help assemble hygiene kits that are being distributed to transition centers along the border by the United Methodist Committee on Relief, or UMCOR. Those assembled kits and other finished kits which community members dropped off — 207 in all —were mailed later that same week week. A special thanks to Homer United Methodist Church, its Pastor Lisa Talbott and church member Jason Davis, who made sure the kits were mailed.

Much gratitude also to Sherry and Don Stead, owners of Grace Ridge Brewing; to Homer’s Progressive Women; to Hal and Lynn Spence, their great nephew Ty Kalhor and visiting student Sydney Butterfield; and to Alex Koepel for their significant contributions in making a difference at the border.

If you want to continue making a difference along the border, here’s how you can help:

• Donations of items and money are still being accepted for the hygiene kits, as well as for mailing costs. We have most of the supplies to build about a hundred additional kits — the goal is 200 more.

Donations of both money and items can be dropped by Grace Ridge Brewing or Homer United Methodist Church. Checks can be made out to Homer United Methodist Church, with “hygiene kits” written in the subject line. The shopping list for the kits is this: one hand towel (15 x 25 –17 x 27 inches; please, no kitchen, cleaning or microfiber towels); one washcloth (again, no kitchen, cleaning or microfiber towels); one sturdy comb with at least six inches of teeth (please, no pocket combs or picks); one toenail or fingernail clipper (no emery boards or metal nail files); bath-size soap (a three-ounce bar or larger, no Ivory or Jergen’s soap, do not remove from packaging); one adult toothbrush (do not remove from packaging, personal advertising not acceptable); 10 adhesive bandages (.75 by 3 inches, common household bandages acceptable); and one one-gallon size re-sealable bag.

Here’s how to assemble the kit:

1. Lay the hand towel flat.

2. Lay the washcloth in the center of the hand towel.

3. Place all remaining items, except the plastic bag, on top of the washcloth.

4. Fold the sides of the hand towel to cover the items.

5. Grasp the bundle tightly and roll over the remainder of the towel.

6. Place the tightly rolled bundle in the plastic bag, remove air, and seal.

Please know we are happy to assemble the kits, if you want to shop for items. We plan to have another get-together to assemble kits — most likely later in September. We will keep you posted.

• Donations also can be made to Lucas Wilcox, founder of Altruist Relief Kitchen, a Homer-based organization seeking nonprofit status. Wilcox and a team of volunteers spent several months feeding migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, earlier this year. ARK plans to return to help along the border in the spring of 2020. For more information or to donate, go to altruistrelief.org.

• Donations also can be made to Casa Alitas, a program run by Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona. The program provides care and short-term shelter to migrant families who have left their homes to escape violence and poverty. Homer residents Dr. Hal Smith and Susan McLane have volunteered at Casa Alitas. For more information or to donate, go to www.ccs-soaz.org.

We will never know what a big difference our seemingly small gifts make, but we are confident these acts of kindness matter and are necessary. Thank you, again, for what you have done and will do to make a difference at our nation’s southern border. If you need more information, please give us a call.

Lori Evans (907-399-7767)

Sherry Stead (907-399-5200)

McKibben Jackinsky (907-299-4926)

Lori Evans is a former Homer News editor and publisher and McKibben Jackinsky is a former Homer News reporter. They also work as freelance writers.

Sherry Stead is co-owner of Grace Ridge Brewery with her husband, Don.