FRANCONIA — About this time most years, the Mennonite Central Committee's mobile meat canner would be making a stop at the Harleysville MCC Material Resource Center where volunteers would can thousands of pounds of meat to be distributed to those in need because of things such as war or natural disasters.

That didn't happen last year, though, and isn't happening again this year.

"It's a little bit difficult to figure out how to safely do a food processing project during the pandemic," said Sharon Swartzentruber, the local MRC's coordinator.

The meat canner is still making stops this year at some places where that is possible, but not here, she said.

Instead, two two-day Relief Kit Packing Event days are being held.

"This is a regular kit that we're always working on," Swartzentruber said. "We just decided to do an extra push to do more during this time."

Packing days were held Monday and Tuesday, April 5 and 6, with another set scheduled for Friday and Saturday, May 21 and 22.

The plan was to prepare 1,000 kits at the April event and another 1,000 in May, Swartzentruber said.

Each of the kits, which are put inside buckets, include four large bars of bath soap, shampoo, four large bars of laundry soap, four adult-sized toothbrushes, four new bath towels, two wide-toothed combs, one nail clipper, a box of adhesive bandages (minimum of 40) and one or two packages of thin sanitary pads (minimum of 28 pads). 

"The totals last year that MCC sent from all the different MCC centers, not just us, was 14,784," Swartzentruber said.

Last year, the local center prepared 1,400 of the kits; the previous year, it did almost 3,000, she said.

A lot of the ones distributed last year went to the Middle East, with others going to places including the Ukraine, Haiti and North Korea, she said.

Volunteers at the local center work in three shifts of three-hours each per day, with 20 persons per shift. There was an additional shift on April 5 made up of CHL Systems employees, Swartzentruber said.

Supplies for each of the kits cost $20, totaling $40,000 for the four-day event. Tax deductible donations may be mailed to: MCC Material Resource Center, 737 Hagey Center Drive, Unit C, Souderton PA 18964. Please indicate the donation is for Relief Kits. 


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