July 11, 2006

Church raises funds to send Kids to Camp           

In response to the increasing danger faced by Ohio County children living in homes where meth use is commonplace, the Hartford United Methodist Church has joined one active ministry and created another.  Since March of last year, the Hartford UMC has been raising money to send kids whose homes have been devastated by the meth epidemic to Camp Loucon in Grayson County, where they can better enjoy the benefits of the outdoor activities of summer camp. 

As all Kentucky Methodists know, Camp Loucon is not expensive.  In fact, it’s one of the best bargains offered anywhere by the Kentucky Annual Conference.  Even so, when a grandparent or other foster parent finds themselves trying to provide appropriate care for children whose homes have been torn apart by the scourge of methamphetamine, even the least expensive “non-necessity” can create a burden the family cannot bear.  In response, the People of the “Heartford” United Methodist Church decided to do something to help.

For over a year they’ve raised money and accepted donations from interested people and organizations for the express purpose of sending to camp those children unable to attend on their own.  Groups ranging from the Masons of Hartford to federal employees in Owensboro have joined together to help raise these funds. 

Last year, the death of one member’s father, Chester DeWitt, spurred that member and others to even greater efforts on the fund’s behalf.  Renamed the “Chester DeWitt Memorial Fund,” it has now grown to more than $2,500 with expectations of even greater growth. 

“It’s ironic,” reports the church’s pastor, “that the first two kids we’ll be sending to camp have a long-time family connection to the church.  Nevertheless, this irony merely highlights the degree to which methamphetamine affects every aspect of our society.  No one, and no group of people, should ever think themselves exempt.”

Earlier this year the church joined with the Ohio County Mission to construct and prepare “Bags of Love” to be given to children when they are removed by local social workers from homes where meth has become a threat to their health and safety.  These “Bags of Love” contain everything from stuffed animals to toothpaste, from Bibles to phone cards, in order to ease the trauma experienced by these children (and by the social workers, too) when they are taken from their homes to places of safety.

Becky Millay, the local contact for the Ohio County Mission, shared with the church some of the experiences these children face.  “They aren’t allowed to take anything with them from home—not a teddy bear, not a stitch of clothes, nothing.  In order to protect the children and the public, these children must be “decontaminated” before they can be placed in foster care.  Frequently the public health workers who must remove these children wear decontamination suits similar to those seen in movies.  Imagine the nightmare experienced by children after such a traumatic event.”

In order to help minimize the trauma, the Ohio County Mission constructs these “Bags of Love” with the help of the Hartford UMC and other local churches.  This is just one way local churches can reach out to the victims of crime often hidden away throughout every community.

For further information on this and other ministries your church can provide your community, call Sandy Douglass: (270) 256-1322.