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Relief is reaching refugees

December 15, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - A local relief agency is still sewing comforters for refugees in Sudan.

Although the Cumberland Valley Relief Center on U.S. 11 south of Chambersburg had committed to sending 2,500 lightweight blankets and comforters to Sudan by Nov. 1, they fell a bit short of that goal.

"The shipment just left North America in mid-November," Relief Center Director Susan Wadel said. "From the CVRC, we sent a total of 2,108 blankets. More than 1,400 of those were hand-made comforters."

Cumberland Valley Relief Center is a branch of Mennonite Central Committee in Akron, Pa. All material resources gathered at the center are sent to the Central Committee.

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From North America, more than 78,000 blankets have been shipped to Sudan so far, short of MCC North America's 100,000 goal.

Shipments will continue until the goal is reached, Wadel said. The community is welcome to bring single-size lightweight blankets to the CVRC, or to volunteer to work in the sewing room.

"We're still working," she said, "We have about 130 more (comforters and blankets) now."

About 50,000 people have been killed and more than a million displaced from their homes by roving militias in the Darfur region of western Sudan. Whole villages have fled militia attacks in recent months and set up makeshift camps, according to officials at MCC.

MCC is the relief, development and peace agency of the Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and other Anabaptist churches in North America. MCC was born in response to famine in Russia in 1920 and has continued to meet human needs around the world, with 1,272 personnel serving in 55 countries, according to the MCC.

The comforters for the Sudanese are "not just to cover with," Wadel said.

"Most importantly, a comforter lets them know someone cares. They can use it to sit on, to protect them from the hot sand and wind and for shade. There is no privacy (in the refugee camps), and the comforters help with that."

As violence continues in the region, "There are many more refugees now than when we started collecting in July," Wadel said.

CVRC also sends school kits, containing notebooks, pencils, a ruler, colored pencils and an eraser, to the camps. CVRC has sent 925 kits, part of MCC's total of 7,000.

MCC sends the relief supplies through a volunteer team of 10 Muslims and 20 Christians who were invited by the Sudan Council of Churches. These volunteers assess needs and deliver aid to the refugee camps.

Photos of Sudanese refugee camps may be viewed on the Mennonite Central Committee Web site at www.mcc.org/sudan.

Anyone wanting to volunteer time or donate blankets can contact Wadel at CVRC at 4225 Molly Pitcher Highway, Chambersburg, or call 717-375-2088. The center is open Tuesday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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