UMS prepares disaster buckets for future

The United Methodist Students service team and The Thundering Herd Recovery team partnered with the pre-physical therapy club to prepare flood buckets that will be used during a disaster such as a flood or hurricane.

Ben Wells, campus minister for UMS, said the buckets contain cleaning supplies that assist families after a disaster.

“The flood buckets are a collection of cleaning supplies and different things that you need when your house has been flooded or damaged in a storm,” Wells said. “What people tend to forget is you do not just lose your furniture and pictures, but your cleaning supplies are ruined in a disaster.”

The groups came together Saturday, Feb. 23, at the New Vision Depot in Beaver, West Virginia, to prepare these buckets, said Kaylan Johnson, junior exercise science major, President of the pre-physical therapy club and member of UMS.

“We traveled to the New Vision Depot,” Johnson said. “The New Vision Depot is a disaster relief center that is part of UMCOR (The United Methodist Committee on Relief). They do multiple types of disaster relief, but we focused on updating and cleaning their flood buckets.”

The buckets are carefully planned and provide supplies that will not only be beneficial, but will last during a disaster, Wells said.

“The buckets are a five-gallon bucket with a pre-planned list of supplies that you need such as cleaning supplies, gloves and masks, for mold and dust,” Wells said. “There are certain types of cleaning sponges, and it is all carefully planned out with the best products. It is also planned around, how you do not want anything that has toxic chemicals or things that are going to spray, and you do not want bleach or sponges that have moisture because they are going to have mold.”

Because the buckets are carefully planned, each one must be looked over to make sure it contains what it is supposed to, Wells said. 

“What we were doing on Saturday was processing through buckets to make sure they had everything they are supposed to have and repackaging it, labeling it and getting it ready to go,” Wells said. “At the Depot, they have to go through each bucket to check that it has what it is supposed to have, make sure they do not have something in there was is not supposed to be, and they have to check them every three years to make sure everything is okay and nothing has happened to the bucket.”

These buckets can go anywhere, Wells said, but also are stored for disasters that could happen in West Virginia. The group prepared 104 buckets which can help many families.

“The work they (students) did represents potentially 104 families or homes that could receive a bucket, and if you think about it some of the flooding we have had in West Virginia, that could easily be enough for one town,” Wells said.

Jacob Thomas, intern with UMS, said watching Sue Lowther, who runs the New Vision Depot, take everything out of the buckets when explaining made him realize the impact they had.

“She took this stuff out of the buckets to show us how to put it together, and just watching her shove all this stuff in this tiny five-gallon bucket, they have to shove so much stuff in there because it is needed,” Thomas said.

Johnson said her favorite part of serving is being able to be with her club members and knowing that the buckets help those after a disaster.

“My favorite part of the day was being able to participate in this service event with my club members,” Johnson said. “It is great to know that the buckets will be used to help someone recover after a disaster. This is the way of lending a hand when you cannot physically be there.”

Wells said he hopes providing these services teaches
students empathy.

“One of the reasons we do service is because we believe an important part of our faith expression is that we show our love and faith in God in how we love other people,” Wells said. “You hope that by doing these things where we are giving our time to other people, we want our students to develop empathy for other people and to understand the value of that we live in this really big community and what happens to other people in some ways affect us. I want our students to not only believe serving is important but to enjoy it.”

The Thundering Herd Recovery Team is planning on traveling to Wilmington, North Carolina, over spring break to continue the work they did over Christmas break with rebuilding homes after Hurricane Florence. Thomas said that there are still spots available for the trip and they are open
to all campus.

For more information about the Thundering Herd Recovery team and future service events, the group may be contacted at [email protected]

Meredith O’Bara can be contacted at [email protected]