Traverse City Church Overwhelmed with Ukraine Donations

It’s been a few short weeks since Traverse City Church of the Nazarene started collecting donations for Ukrainian refugees in Poland. It’s part of their church’s Northern Michigan Nazarene Missions International chapter.

But already, they’ve had to stop accepting donations due to the high volume they’ve received.

“We have at least another 500 boxes worth,” says Pastor Richard Rice. “We have to be able to process and get the items that we already have to Give Back Box by the end of March.”

VolunteersFor now, the church needs volunteers to help sort, fold and pack boxes to ship.

Tuesday, Grand Traverse Men’s Shed came for their third day of volunteering. The non-profit was formed just a few years ago to provide a safe place for senior men to work on projects and make friends. This opportunity fit the organization’s mission and a few members were inspired to help from hearing the stories of strangers on the other side of the world.

“The story that brought me here was the one of the six years-old little girl that was three or four days trapped below with her mother beside her, who had already died, and she died six days later,” says Steve Morse, Volunteer with Grand Traverse Men’s Shed. “For four or five days, that child was scared, cold. I can’t imagine a worse way for a child to pass away, to be scared for three days in that. That’s kind of why we’re all here.”

Morse served in the U.S. Army, stationed in Germany, 20 years after World War 2. He can’t help but have a strong affinity for the current, unfolding events.

“I went to East Berlin while it was still East, and West Berlin saw a lot of people trying, dealing with loved ones on the other side,” says Morse. “I didn’t have any contact with war and refugees, but I saw a lot of the scars and the aftermath.”

Grand Traverse Men’s Shed President Jim Novak says it’s heartbreaking to think of the people who will receive the donations. What initially shocked him was the need for men’s briefs, or clothing in general.

“What you’re seeing happening to these people, the refugees going to Poland and the other countries, it’s just heartbreaking to see that,” says Novak. “The ones that get to me the most are the shoes. When you see the little baby shoes. I’m thinking, wow, you don’t think of that. You think what you see on TV, mainly the adults.”

Novak says it’s bittersweet, seeing the community support through the number of donated items but also knowing where they will go.Room Filled With Donations

“In today’s society, it should not be happening at all. We’re better than that,” says Novak. “All our financial blessings that we have. We don’t need it. And that’s what these people are recognizing. They don’t need this clothing. And when you see clothes come in with tags on [it’s] because they went to the store and bought them.”

Though donations are no longer being accepted, volunteers are needed. Volunteers can call the church for information. Anyone who would like to donate items on their own can go through Give Back Box.