Endwell Methodist Church Members Donate in Kentucky

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Driving a truckload of donations down narrow, winding roads in rural Kentucky isn’t easy, but it’s a task three members of a church in Endwell happily take on every year.

“Every trip is an adventure,” said Tom Scheibner.

Scheibner is a member of the Endwell United Methodist Church and one of the leaders of the Church’s annual campaign to collect shoe boxes filled with personal hygiene items from at least 40 churches in the Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church.

He and the other co-leaders of the project, Dave Alexander and Ken Schlock, then rent and load two large box trucks with the help of a few dozen volunteers. Then they made the 12-hour trip to the Red Bird Mission in Beverly, Ky. In early December to deliver donations. The mission then gives the donations as Christmas gifts to those in need.

For many years, Endwell United Methodist Church was one of the many collection sites for the mission. But after one of the organizers fell ill and could no longer collect donations statewide and then deliver them to Kentucky, members of the Endwell Church took over. They made their first trip to Kentucky in 2016. Since then, they’ve expanded their donations to include backpacks filled with school supplies, blankets, and hand-knitted hats and scarves.

“It’s just the bare essentials they need that we take for granted,” Schlock said.

Planning for the project begins in March, when the men call the mission to find out what they need. They then spread the word about giving among churches in the New York Superior Conference of the United Methodist Church, which includes more than 800 churches statewide.

Then they have to pick up the items. They drove as far east as Albany and west to Buffalo to pick up donations and bring them back to Endwell. Nelcorp Electrical Contracting, of Endwell, allows them to stock items in their warehouse until it’s time to head to western Kentucky.

Some churches of different denominations are collecting donations for the project while other churches send cash donations to help cover the cost of the trip, Alexander said.

Located in the heart of the coal mining country, the mission serves people living in an economically disadvantaged area. Many people lost their jobs when the coal mines closed. Only one coal mine is currently in operation. There are very few shops and people travel several kilometers to find a grocery store or a restaurant.

“You find places where people live in cabins with dirt floors,” Alexander said. “It’s a whole different world.”

Schlock added: “It’s humiliating to see the need they have there.”

The Red Bird Mission in Beverly, Kentucky.  Endwell United Methodist Church collects donations from churches across the state and gives them to the mission at least once a year.

Driving all over the state to pick up donations, making the long trek to Kentucky, and traversing the narrow rural roads, there are small sacrifices to be made in order to live their faith, the three men said.

“If you truly believe in Christianity, part of our job is to share and help,” Scheibner said.

All the hard work is worth it knowing that they have done something to brighten the lives of those in need, the three said.

“You come away with such a great feeling knowing that you are helping people,” Alexander said.

Added Schlock, “It’s just the right thing to do.”

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How to help

To donate items or money to benefit the Red Bird Mission, contact the Endwell United Methodist Church office at 607-754-5735.

To learn more about the Red Bird mission, go online at rbmission.org.


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