|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on May 11, 2020 at 1:20 PM|
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Hands of Christ,
The Operations Team of Hands of Christ met last week to discuss and discern the path before us.
While we have the certainty of a God who loves and cares for us and all of creation, we live in a world of much physical uncertainty. Below are the facts we as we know them.
1) If there is not a return to face-to-face instruction in the fall, there could be no distribution.
2) Due to the unknown rules for social distancing which will be required, we do not see a way that we could conduct a normal distribution due the large number of volunteers and family members that are normally present to pick out their clothing and supplies.
3) The supply chain we rely on for our clothing is at a standstill, as clothing products are made in China and shipped over water to here. There is nothing coming out of China and nothing on the water. Available clothing is either now in US warehouses or will not be available.
4) Due to uncertainty as to when children are to return to school and under what conditions, we do not see a way that we can organize a new distribution schedule to be able to perform outside of the normal end of July/ early August distribution dates. To go earlier or later would cause conflicts of availability of the facilities at Westminster Presbyterian Church, which they so generously provide us.
5) We are blessed to have an inventory on hand that could serve about 2000 children with one set of clothing. We normally serve ~5000 children with two sets each.
6) We have an obligation to help as we can. The need this year will be as great as it ever has been.
7) We have an obligation to protect the health of the children and families that we serve.
8 ) We have an obligation to protect the health of our volunteers.
9) The Operations Team, as are many of the volunteers in our member congregations, are 65 or older and/or have compromising conditions.
10) The need to practice social distancing and disinfection of facilities as well as our limited inventory would limit the number of sites and/or children we could serve on a given day.
11) The possibility of a drive-through distribution with families remaining in their cars, given the heat and humidity of the dog days of the Lowcountry summer, is nonviable.
12) Mid-July will be here before we know it. Decisions need to be made so that the Operations Team can properly plan as well as our member congregations.
Therefore, we have reached the sad conclusion that the Operations Team cannot this year support a face-to-face distribution.
However, we have come up with a way to serve 2000 children and to involve our member congregations.
We will wait until after the first few weeks of school have passed and approach the schools we serve to provide us with the names, genders, and sizes of children in need. There would be a limit for each school as to how many children can be helped. The school would gather the data on each child, forward it to us, and we would on Friday afternoons and Saturdays in September, when Westminster is available, fill bags with the requested clothing, one set per child. The following week, with the help of our member congregations, we would deliver the bags to the schools for them to distribute. All of our current inventory will be dedicated to providing for delivery to schools directly. We have used such a process for years for addressing emergency situations during the school year.
Stand-alone distributions that do not require the assistance of the Operations Team are free to move forward as they see fit. Congregations who wish to conduct their own distributions would of course follow the requirements for social distancing, disinfection, etc., considering carefully their facility lay-outs and the number of people (volunteers and those we help) involved. We all must consider both the legal and moral liabilities Hands of Christ and our participating congregations might face if not done properly. Those stand-alone distributions may also want to consider a delivery of clothing directly to the schools in their neighborhoods. That is certainly their choice. Due to our limited inventory, all of our current stock of clothing and school supplies will be used for the school delivery-based operation out of Westminster and will not be available to the stand-alone distributions.
We grieve at the loss of the face-to-face contact we have with each child, of the chance to show them Christ’s hands in action, and to share his love in person. We also grieve of not being able to do that work with our member congregations and in their facilities. However, our discernment process leads us to believe that this is the wisest course of action.
We pray that we can return to our normal distribution in 2021.
Grace and peace,