New mission depot opens in Bethlehem

Emergency supplies including toys, furniture, books, baby equipment, and appliances, as well as disaster relief kits, are readied for distribution at the new Lehigh Valley Outreach Depot, a ministry of Wesley UMC in Bethlehem.

A mission warehouse on south Bethlehem, PA, focused on helping some of the 63,000 women who were pregnant at the time of the earthquake in Haiti, is now one of seventeen depots in four states focused on emergency relief and serving the poor.  When the Lehigh Valley Outreach Depot (LVOD) held its grand opening on April 24, volunteers assembled birthing kits to send to Haiti via the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).  A birthing kit contains the essential items a woman needs to give birth outside of a health care facility.

The Lehigh Valley Outreach Depot is a 5,000 square foot warehouse and work center established as a mission project of Wesley United Methodist Church, Bethlehem.

In addition to assembling the birthing kits, the Depot will assemble and distribute Health Kits, School Kits, Cleaning Kits and other disaster relief kits as well as collect donated household items for dissemination to victims of disasters throughout the world.

As it says on the LVOD website: “Our vision is to become the hands and feet of God.  Our sole purpose is to receive, store and provide useful goods to those who need help reestablishing their lives or business.”

The Depot will support those going through devastating times due to a loss of home or business because of fire, flood, hurricane, earthquake, or other catastrophic occurrences.   Those in need may be local (within the greater Lehigh Valley), elsewhere in Pennsylvania, the nation and the world.  The LVOD is a hub of Mission Centralout of the Central PA Conference of the  United Methodist Church.  Goods distributed may include household furniture, small appliances, business furniture and equipment and disaster relief kits – health kits, cleaning buckets, school kits, birthing kits, etc.

The Grand Opening Celebration offered tours, a ribbon cutting ceremony led by Pastor Bill Lentz, food, fun, and an opportunity to participate in mission.

The depot will be open to receive/distribute supplies two days a week – Tuesdays and Saturdays – from 9:00 to 3:00.  On those days, volunteers will be asked to help support depot operations as well as assemble disaster relief kits.  During periods of increased demand following a major disaster, these days and hours may be expanded to accommodate added volunteers.

The LVOD team is made up of members of Wesley United Methodist Church:  Mike Krum and Don Fuller, co-site managers; Carol Totten and Sue Matacavage, volunteer coordinators; Sharon Schultz, treasurer; Bob Totten and Karen Rose, communications coordinators.  The team works with Danelle Fowler,Wesley’s Mission Coordinator.

After a search of the Lehigh Valley for possibilities, Wesley Church sent a letter to forty sites asking for the donation of warehouse space.  Ed Sinko and Gary Wagner of Rustic Exteriors responded to the vision of LVOD and enthusiastically embraced the ministry by donating 5,000 square feet of their warehouse to launch the ministry.

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