Virus pandemic impacts MCC

Mar 26, 2020 by

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Precautions to limit the spread of coronavirus during the global COVID-19 pandemic create significant impacts on the work of Mennonite Central Committee.

Nearly every thrift store that raises funds to support MCC has decided to temporarily suspend operations or reduce hours to protect the health and safety of shoppers, volunteers and staff.

In recent months, U.S. thrift shops provided about $627,000 per month to support MCC work.

Spring is also relief sale season. Sales have been canceled or postponed in Fresno, Calif.; Harvey, N.D.; Bloomington, Ill.; Hutchinson, Kan.; Mountain Lake, Minn.; Aurora, Neb.; and Sherwood Park, Alta.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Nampa, Idaho; and Upland, Calif.

Those 10 sales provided more than $1.7 million to support MCC in 2019.

Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale board chair Jim Robb said the board needs to decide if it is practical to reschedule or if it should examine alternate ways to support MCC. A separate KMRS initiative to raise $1 million for MCC from 1,000 donors is continuing, and contributions are welcome.

“Part of the difficulty comes with the uncertainty of the present situation we are in and not knowing when it would even be allowed for us to schedule an event of this size,” he said. The annual event takes place at the Kansas State Fairgrounds.

“Some relief sale committees are investing a lot of energy and creativity into figuring out alternative ways to host a relief sale and to raise money for MCC,” said Les Gustafson-Zook, MCC relief sale coordinator.

He encourages people to consult their local sale’s Facebook page or website to keep up with the most recent changes and opportunities.

“They may also want to get started making things for next year, watch for online auctions at other relief sales or give money directly to MCC this year, and be ready to make next year’s relief sale better than ever,” Gustafson-Zook said.

All of MCC’s regional offices are closed to the public and staff are working remotely as they are able. The offices are still reachable by phone or email. Material resource centers have canceled events and asked volunteers to stay home until further notice. Donations are being accepted on a location-by-location basis.

MCC has not recalled international workers to home countries, but some young adults participating in Global Service Learning programs have decided to return home early from their assignments, which include the International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP), Service and Learning Together (SALT), Seed, and the Young Anabaptist Mennonite Exchange Network (YAMEN).

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