On our way to South Dakota: 284 cubic feet of donations

November 12, 2014 by

Think about the space taken by a single shoebox. Then visualize how much space would be needed for 1,670 shoeboxes. That’s the cargo space available in a GMC Savana cargo van.

But this particular GMC cargo van is filled not with shoeboxes, but with plastic bags of shoes. And winter coats. And children’s clothes. Plus Christmas gifts, blankets and bedding, scarves, gloves, women’s clothes, a small TV and several prom dresses.

This slideshow captures loading the GMC cargo van from sorting
bags and boxes in the garage to celebrating a job well done.

• • • • • • • •

Today the van — with every inch of its 284 cubic feet of cargo space packed full — is on its way to the Tree of Life Relief Ministry in Mission, S.D., on the Rosebud Indian Reservation.

“I wish we had counted before we starting packing everything up,” said Sister Beth Weddle as she waited to start loading the van last Friday. “These are all the things they asked for, and so much more.”

For Sister Beth, this is a return trip; her traveling companion for the six-hour drive is Sister Cecilia Green, also of Concordia.

In early September, Sister Beth took her first load of donations to the Tree of Life Boutique and that time focused on prom dresses for high school girls on the reservation. This time, as cold weather sets in, Tree of Life director Russell Masartis said the items most needed were winter coats and shoes for all ages.

So Sister Beth began putting out the word, and the donations started arriving: Bags of shoes from a sister in Kansas City, more from an agrégée candidate in Norton, bags and boxes from sisters and friends across Kansas, still more from a stranger in Salina. It seemed everyone she met over the past several weeks had something to send with her.

Beth also checked with people holding yard sales, to see if they would donate any unsold shoes. And she stopped by the Catholic Thrift Store several times to purchase shoes on its discount rack.

Sister Susan Stoeber had volunteered her two-car garage as the “staging point” to gather, sort and pack donations, and before long most of the floor space was full.

When Nazareth Motherhouse employees Curtis Mansfield and Keith Sells arrived last Friday morning to help load the large cargo van, on loan from the Nazareth Motherhouse, Sister Beth was convinced it wouldn’t all fit. “Take the shoes and coats first,” she said a number of times. “Take the things they asked for first.”

She didn’t need to worry; Mansfield and Sells carefully packed boxes and bags to fill every space, with just enough room for the driver, passenger and their two small suitcases.

After unloading the van, Sisters Beth and Cece will stay at the Tree of Life mission for a few days as volunteers, helping in the thrift store or the kitchen.

The Tree of Life Relief Agency has been working with people of the Sioux Nation on the reservation since 1985.  Although it is sponsored by the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church, it is multi-denominational and cross-cultural. Through its Volunteers-in-Mission program, workers from more than a dozen denominations from across the United States spend time there every year.

For more on the agency and its work, go to treeofliferelief.org.

Comments

2 Responses to “On our way to South Dakota: 284 cubic feet of donations”

  1. Lorren Harbin on January 6th, 2015 8:03 pm

    Beth and all involved in helping Beth, what a fabulous gift to the Tree of Life Relief Ministry. Great way to end the 2014 year and I hope we all can contribute in some way to continue this wonderful gifting and volunteering. Way to go! Happy New Year to you all!

  2. Loretta Jasper on November 13th, 2014 7:42 am

    One more bullet point to add to the resumes of our employees…thanks Curtis and Keith for your muscle.

    Thanks to the donors; and thanks to Beth for targeting this area of need.

    “Sleeves rolled up!.

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