For the last six months, the United Methodist Church of Montevideo and the Jennie-O Turkey Store of Montevideo have turned out to be good partners in an unusual opportunity.
Late last year, the United Methodist Chuch heard from the Albright United Methodist Church in Marshall about how they were having a tough time getting enough five gallon buckets for the Midwest Mission Distribution Cen-ter (MMDC).
“They need the buckets to help with flooding,” said Colleen Ford with the United Methodist Church in Montevideo. “They fill them up with cleaning supplies to give to people after flooding.”
The church started looking into ways to help, and contacted area businesses to see if they had any leftover buckets that could be used. The buckets needed to be five gallons to hold all of the supplies needed, and needed to be resealable to be shippable. The problem, it turned out, was that inventory sizes aren’t calling for buckets quite that large.
Meanwhile, the Jennie-O Turkey Store in Montevideo was working on one of their goals.
“Part of Jennie-O’s greater plan is to reduce landfill waste and increase recycling. Since 2007, we’ve managed to reduce our total pounds sent by 59 percent,” said Nate Weber, plant manager. “Just from last year, we’ve reduced that by 11 percent.”
So, when the production supervisor, Lola Minke, told Weber about the church’s search, he agreed there was a good opportunity.
Jennie-O uses 100 five gallon buckets of honey a week. To that point, they’d been recycling the buckets.
“The church’s project was a great fit. We get to help people in need and reduce landfill waste. Every one of these buckets is for a person trying to deal with a problem, it’s a win-win for us if we can help out,” Weber said.
At first the goal was to get enough to help meet an immediate demand, and to meet a 14-bucket request to each church made by Bishop Ough of the Methodist Church, but once that was done, it was clear the groundwork was in place to keep doing a good thing.
“It’s not like disasters just stop,” Weber said.
The church and Jennie-O set up a plan where Jennie-O would provide the buckets and clean them out for the church, if they could pick them up, store them, and hand them over to the MMDC.
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The church had space to store some of the buckets, and Keith Hein agreed to store the buckets in a warehouse he owned. He and his grandson, Carson, make near-weekly trips to pick up the buckets and store them. The MMDC is thrilled to pick them up.
“They are so happy to come up here from Illinois to pick them up,” Ford said. “It’s like telling a fisherman that the fish are biting. They are so excited to get going.”
Weber said Jennie-O Turkey Store is happy to keep going with the plan, and Ford said the church is as well.
“How many plans have a business willing to help out like this, with an ongoing need?” Ford said.
The buckets filed by the MMDC are worth $55 each, and include dish soap, landry detergent, fresheners, insect repellant, brushes, cleaning wipes, sponges, scouring pads, clothespins and clothes lines.
“Without the donations and the help, we would not be able to deliver buckets to those in need. We strictly rely on donations, there are no grants,” said Pat Wright, executive director for MMDC.
She said that sometimes the supplies are important because people cannot afford them, but it also shows a level of compassion that means a lot.
“We’ve heard back that people are grateful that people care enough to send this to them. It isn’t just throwing money at them, people put this together,” Wright said.
“In a disaster, in a flooded area, when you’re going into a mucky area, you have teams going in to clean up. The first thing you need is to get rid of the muck, the dirt, the smell.”