UMCOR Kit-Packing Palooza at UPS!
By Skylar Bihl | Photos by Skylar Bihl and Katie Aosved

The University Methodist Campus Ministry Club (fondly called UMeth) hosted members of UMC youth groups from six area churches for an UMCOR Kit-Packing Palooza.

The idea for the collaborative kit-packing day came from junior Becca Brazell (Tacoma First UMC):

“I developed a deep love for UMCOR after writing a research paper on the work they did during the rebuilding in New Orleans that happened after Hurricane Katrina during my first year in college at UPS. I wanted to find a way that UMeth could help UMCOR with the work they do and then I got the idea of creating supply kits together as a community. In coming together as a community we hold the potential to make a bigger difference by combining our resources. It is also important for us to engage as a community in order to facilitate and begin to create relationships with one another. As college students we are often expected to take on mentorship roles for the younger generation and this event seemed like a good way for UMeth to begin doing something like that with the local youth groups.”

Youth and leaders from First UMC Olympia, Gig Harbor, Mason, Port Orchard, Spanaway, and Tibbetts UMCs brought UMCOR kit supplies collected through drives at their home churches to make Health and School Kits in order to refill the UMCOR coffers. The event opened with an informal worship service in Kilworth Memorial Chapel. The Rev. Dave Wright preached on “Broken Bread, Broken Bodies” and using what we have to help others. Then, after traipsing downstairs for snacks and get-to-know-you games, the packing began.

Through a variety of sorting stations and assembly-line packing, the nearly 20 youth and college students packed 65 Health Kits and 74 School Kits*. UMeth and Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society member, Doug Palmer (Longs Peak UMC, Longmont, Colo.) worked both organizations to help complete kits that were still missing items (with the addition of some after-the-fact, fill-in-the-holes purchases by UMeth).

Of the event, first-year University of Puget Sound student Kristina Sinks (Los Altos UMC, Calif.) wrote, “This is important to me because I think the whole event reflected what Methodism, and the Jesus movement, was founded on: reaching out to those who are marginalized, oppressed, and vulnerable. It isn’t about evangelizing or proselytizing or spreading our way of life to other people, but about giving what we have in abundance (time, energy, supplies) in order to help other people…”

*While the 74 School Kits have been assembled, we are still in need of 70 cloth bags for the kits. If you or your church might be interested in helping sew some of these bags, please contact Skylar Bihl at

The UMCOR Kit-Packing Palooza took place on Saturday, October 24, 2015

Skylar Bihl serves as the Assistant Director for Spiritual Life and Civic Engagement in the Center for Intercultural and Civic Engagement at the University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, Wash.).

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