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Group packs food, essentials at Global Aid Network

LANCASTER — It was an early October morning when over four dozen people were collected on a chartered bus and driven to the small community of Mount Joy, which is in the heart of Lancaster County.

Their goal was to donate food, clothes and other items to the Global Aid Network (GAiN) as well as pack clothes, food and humanitarian goods to be shipped all over the world at GAiN’s Logistics Center in Mount Joy.

GAiN, according to event organizer Paul Kinley, is the “humanitarian arm of Campus Crusade for Christ.”

Its motto is, “Relieve suffering, restore dignity, reveal hope.” Much of its work is concentrated in the Middle East, the horn of Africa and Central America. The warehouse houses donations such as dry foods, clothes, medical supplies, mobility supplies, feminine hygiene supplies and blankets.

According to Kinley, the GAiN facility will host groups from all over the country who come to volunteer and help pack items that need to be shipped to parts of the world that are facing some sort of crisis.

On that particular Tuesday, Kinley said churches represented included Amazing Grace Community Church, Oval Methodist Church, Maple Spring United Methodist Church, the First United Methodist Church of Muncy, Big Woods Bible Church, Cedar Run Baptist Church, Lycoming Center Presbyterian Church, Open Door Christian Fellowship of Bloomsburg, Community Baptist Church of Montoursville and Christ Wesleyan.

Kinley said 88 percent of the mini-mission trippers were going for the first time. His organization, Experience Missions, worked with GAiN to bring the travelers together.

“We have a lot of moving parts,” Kinley said with a laugh, adding when he began putting the trip together in August, he thought he would only get about 20 people.

“We have a total of 52 people,” Kinley said. “Praise God!”

Not only were the volunteers generous with their time, but with other donations as well. Kinley said he was pleased with what was donated by the volunteers.

He explained that volunteers paid $35 in order to volunteer for GAiN. The money goes to purchasing items that will be packaged and shipped to the areas of the world in need. The money also helps affirm the commitment to volunteer.

“The goal is also to introduce people to GAiN and get them to think about missions,” Kinley said.

The event took place during GAiN’s “five-day packing event” where 3,000 volunteers were involved. It was expected that over 760,000 people worldwide would benefit from the event.

Parke Stoltzfus, of Cedar Run Baptist Church, who attended the packing event, said he went to Uganda on a missionary trip back in January of this year. He explained the girls were unable to attend school due to their menstrual periods. However, thanks to products provided by GAiN, such as LuoPads, washable feminine pads cut from donated cloth, the girls were able to get their education.

Kim Davis, a missionary working with GAiN, explained it was policy to reject certain clothes such as shirts that were overtly American or Christian, or with a camouflage design. She said that in some developing nations, a teenager wearing a shirt with a camouflage pattern looks as if he is in the local army and could be targeted.

“Many of these clothes go to different refugees,” Davis said.

When not sorting clothes, other people were sorting the donations of rubber crocs or slip on shoes. The volunteers would match the left shoe with the right.

After the morning work session, GAiN provided doughnuts, juice, muffins and bagels during a break. Dave Parsons, GAiN’s mobile operations specialist, said the goal of the humanitarian group was to “take Jesus to the toughest people on earth.”

Parsons said that many of the GAiN workers will hear from disaster victims asking, “If God loves me, why is it so hard?”

He said that in 2018, GAiN shared 600,000 critical aid medical supplies to people in need.

“(This aid) allows us to share the Gospel in a much more effective way,” Parsons said.

During the afternoon, the workers from Lycoming County spent time filling bags with either rice or beans. The bags were packed into larger containers and eventually put on a pallet. Before the pallets were sent out, the crowd would gather and pray the food packaged would provide the help needed.

At the end of the day, Kinley was thrilled so many people chose to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

“My wife and I are amazed how God filled this bus,” he said.

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