Volunteers at Loads of Love in Chatham had a busy time of it recently, packing a shipping container bound for the Ukraine.
Despite all the work packing the container, the crew could not have been happier, knowing their efforts were going to bring smiles on the faces of hundreds of orphans in the European country.
Penny Stull, container co-ordinator with Loads of Love, said 719 kids at five different orphanages in the Ukraine would benefit from the contents of the container.
Loads of Love missionary Ed Dickson, a Leamington native, is currently in the Ukraine. He lists items of greatest need, and the Loads of Love personnel back in Canada work to deliver.
The container also included medical supplies such as bandages, hospital beds, wheelchairs, crutches, and even an X-ray machine and two examination tables, Stull said.
On top of that, Jabez Blanket Ministries out of Ottawa donated 730 backpacks filled with blankets, teddy bears and school supplies, worth an estimated $28,000 combined.
Stull said the container also had winter clothes, shoes, boots, bedding, blankets and even a number of bicycles.
Work began on filling the Ukraine order back in January.
“Ed sent his priority list and we reached out to our partners,” Stull said with pride.
She said the organization often sends food, but “these items are priceless for the recipients.”
The loading of the container is a busy time at Loads of Love, with about a dozen volunteers working in and around the facility’s storage area to find the boxes to be shipped and then packing them into the container. A forklift helps with bigger items and large boxes, but much of the work is done by hand.
Stull said it’s all done with smiles.
“It’s like Christmas day for us. It’s container day!”
This isn’t the only shipping container the people of Loads of Love in Chatham will fill this year. Stull said plans are for two others to be sent out to other countries as well.
But Loads of Love isn’t focused solely on sending goods overseas. Kevin Broadwood, president of Loads of Love in Chatham, said about 60 per cent of what they do is earmarked to help the people of Chatham-Kent, while the remaining 40 per cent goes abroad to areas of need.
“That’s why I like to volunteer here,” Stull said, referring to the local-first mindset.
Broadwood said there are no employees at Loads of Love, only volunteers, about 95 of them to be exact.
He said what the volunteers see in terms of local need is something that most people just aren’t aware of in C-K.
“A lot of people who are middle class and up have no clue how the rest of the community lives,” he said.
Stull said they rely on donations from the public.
“We have to have stuff coming in so we have stuff to go out,” she said.
That includes medical supplies, food, household items, clothing, you name it.
Some of it is sold in the Loads of Love store, some is sent overseas, while more goes to those in need in Chatham-Kent.
Families and individuals will come to Loads of Love seeking assistance. They could be there on forms of social assistance, or because of low income. Broadwood said they may also receive help simply because a Loads of Love volunteer sees the need.
“Our volunteers have big ears to listen for the needs of the community,” he said. “We’ve got the greatest volunteers in the whole world.”
Stull said it’s about offering support.
“We try to offer as much love as we can,” she said.