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Louisville-area volunteers ‘assemble’ to support disaster-impacted communities


Mid-Kentucky Presbytery partners with the Presbyterian Center with donations from the Presbyterian Foundation and friends to make hygiene kits for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

June 28, 2024

Packing boxes filled with hygiene kits were, from left, Cheryl Branch, Strathmoor Presbyterian Church; Marian McClure Taylor; Linda Heleringer, Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church; and Connie Vice, Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church. (Photo by Emily Odom)

The brightly lit Ramsey Gym at Beulah Presbyterian Church in Louisville recently came alive as some 20 area volunteers became a cheerful human assembly line in support of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.

The enthusiastic group — with volunteers representing Mid-Kentucky Presbytery and the PC(USA) national offices — turned out to assemble more than 1,000 PDA hygiene kits for ready distribution in the U.S. and abroad whenever disaster strikes. Each kit consists of a bar of soap, toothbrush, washcloth, hand towel, bandages, nail clippers and a wide-toothed comb, all sealed in a gallon storage bag.

Nancy Leach, a ruling elder at Beulah who organized the effort on behalf of the presbytery’s Mission Committee, shared its eight-year history.

“The presbytery’s hygiene kit project began in 2016 at Strathmoor Presbyterian Church and moved here in 2019,” she explained. “This year, we especially want to remember and honor Diane Kirkpatrick and her family, since this was really Diane’s passion.”

The late Diane Kirkpatrick, a longtime member of Springdale Presbyterian Church, wife of the Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the PC(USA)’s General Assembly from 1996–2008, and mother of the Rev. Elizabeth Kirkpatrick, a former member of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, died March 19, in Columbus, Indiana. A passionate advocate for mission within the presbytery, it was Kirkpatrick who started the presbytery-wide PDA Hygiene Kit mission project.

Mid-Kentucky Presbytery volunteers get the project underway. From left are Kyle Dreher, Beulah Presbyterian Church; John Odom; Connie Vice, Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church; Cheryl Branch, Strathmoor Presbyterian Church; Linda Garrett, Harvey Browne Memorial Presbyterian Church; and Brook Seymour, Beulah Presbyterian Church. (Photo by Emily Enders Odom)

“Diane’s main thing was for this project to be as inclusive as possible,” added Leach. “She wanted to be able to offer an activity that big, little, old and young could do together. Then we all witness by sending the kits to those who desperately need them.”

The Rev. Brad Palmer, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Eminence, Kentucky, and moderator of the presbytery’s Mission Committee, echoed Leach’s admiration for Kirkpatrick.

“The Eminence church gave a large donation to this project in honor of Elizabeth, who served as pastor of Eminence, and in memory of Diane,” Palmer said.

Recently, the mission project became even more inclusive than Kirkpatrick could perhaps have imagined when the Rev. Dr. John L. Odom, Mid-Kentucky’s general presbyter, contacted the leadership at the Presbyterian Center a few years ago to ask them to take part in the effort.

“We invited our partners at the Center both to donate resources as well as to provide hands-on ministry in assembling the kits,” Odom said. “What a wonderful way to model Presbyterian connectionalism.”

Volunteers from the Presbyterian Center included, from left, Maha Kolko, Bruce Bottoms and Lara Kirwan. (Photo by Emily Enders Odom)

As soon as Odom reached out to the national offices, Kathy Lueckert, president of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation, and her colleagues immediately embraced the opportunity.

“These kits are an important part helping our siblings — in this country and around the world — begin to pick up the pieces of their lives after a disaster,” said Lueckert, a ruling elder at Central Presbyterian Church in Louisville, who has long been active in presbytery work wherever she has served. “Thanks for the invitation, Mid-Kentucky Presbytery!”

In addition to national staff from the Presbyterian Center, area residents, friends and members of the presbytery, still other PC(USA) partners joined the effort, especially in donating needed supplies.

“We seek to make connections with the community around us often,” said Robyn Davis Sekula, vice president of Communications and Marketing for the Presbyterian Foundation and a ruling elder at Highland Presbyterian Church. “Collecting items for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance allowed us to support a local presbytery as well as an international effort to provide care following disasters. Our team members embraced this enthusiastically and went above and beyond what we expected. We hoped for around 200 items but got more than 2,000. We are incredibly grateful for our employees’ generosity.”

Shortly before noon on Saturday, once all the supplies had been bagged and packed, Palmer invited the Rev. Dr. Marian McClure Taylor, a retired member of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, to lead the circle of volunteers in prayer, asking God’s blessing not only on the stacks of boxes and the team who had assembled them, but also upon those who would receive them.

The over 1,000 completed hygiene kits were delivered to the Disaster Assistance Center at Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, where they will be distributed.

Emily Enders Odom, Associate Director of Mission Communications

Today’s Focus: Mid-Kentucky Presbytery assembles hygiene kits for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Shanea Leonard, Director, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministry, Presbyterian Mission Agency 
Heather Leoncini, Mission Specialist, Presbyterian Youth and Triennium, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Let us pray

Gracious God, we thank you that you are a miracle-working God and a multiplier of loaves and fishes. We thank you for your love and the opportunity to tell and show your love to all. We hold up to you the needs all over the world. Amen.

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