(Left) Florence Millard poses with a cleaning bucket, which she calls her “forever mission project.” (Right) Florence Millard with her youngest great-great-grandchild, celebrated her 95th birthday and collected more than $1,000 in contributions for UMCOR relief supplies.
By Susan Kim
April 1, 2014—When Florence Millard's family threw her a 95th birthday party, the “gift wish list” had only one item: a contribution to purchase cleaning buckets for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Considering Ms. Millard is a mother of three, grandmother of 12, great-grandmother of 26, and great-great-grandmother of 12 (and counting), quite a few guests were on hand to help her celebrate.
Nearly 200 people attended the party on February 15 this year, held at the Spooner United Methodist Church in Wisconsin. Ms. Millard has been a member of the church since 1962.
“I collected more than $1,000 and called it my birthday present,” said Ms. Millard. She has assembled hundreds of cleaning buckets in her lifetime. Even though she has never experienced a flooded home herself, she remembers standing with loved ones who did.
“I had two sisters that flooded out,” she said. “One had to bulldoze her house away in 1942 in Rochester, Minnesota. They didn't have any flood insurance. The water got up to the second floor of their house. I remember standing with her; she was just crying.”
Ms. Millard calls UMCOR cleaning buckets “a forever ongoing mission project.”
In Spooner, located in northern Wisconsin some 70 miles from Duluth, Ms. Millard said she has been somewhat sheltered from disasters. “We're lucky we've never had a flood or a tornado. But so many family and friends have had floods that I've stayed dedicated to cleaning buckets for a long time.”
Ms. Millard Is a Lenten Example
Ms. Millard has had “a lifetime in ministry with UMCOR,” said Greg Forrester, UMCOR’s assistant general secretary for U.S. Disaster Response. He thanked Ms. Millard for her dedication, adding that she serves as a good example for people who are looking for creative ways to be in mission.
“This Lenten season, we could think about our commitment to giving in new ways, on new levels,” he suggested. “Next time someone suggests holding a birthday party for you, think about Ms. Millard—and consider following her lead.”
The Three Most Needed Relief Kits
When you are planning to give relief supplies, there are currently three kinds of kits that are desperately needed: layette kits, sewing kits, and bedding packs. “These are three of the lesser-known ones but, in fact, we have an urgent need for those right now,” said Kathy Kraiza, executive director for UMCOR Relief Supplies.
The good news? Volunteers tend to visit the relief supply depots in Louisiana and Utah in larger numbers over the summer. Brian Diggs, director of the UMCOR West Office and Depot said he is already preparing for the rush of mission-minded visitors.
“This means we really need our churches to send in kits,” he said.
Your support for UMCOR’s Material Resources ministry makes a tangible difference in the lives of people who experience disasters or chronic need. Here are three ways you can help:
Visit UMCOR’s Relief Supplies web page to learn how to assemble and ship relief kits.
Give to Material Resources, Advance #901440, to help UMCOR purchase supplies for the kits.
Give to Contain Your Joy, Advance #982730, to help underwrite the cost of shipping these vital kits to those who urgently need them.
*Susan Kim is a journalist and a regular contributor to staging.umcor.org.