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At MCC's Material Resource Center in Ephrata, Pa., volunteers Ivan Reiff, left, and Nelson Oberholtzer stack boxes of canned turkey for shipment to people affected by flooding in Mozambique. Brenda Burkholder

At MCC's Material Resource Center in Ephrata, Pa., volunteers Ivan Reiff, left, and Nelson Oberholtzer stack boxes of canned turkey for shipment to people affected by flooding in Mozambique. Brenda Burkholder

MCC reviews material resources program

Tim Shenk
November 4, 2008

AKRON, Pa. – Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) will discontinue shipping used clothing overseas in 2009 as a result of a comprehensive review that is intended to strengthen MCC's material resource program.

MCC's material resource program ships hundreds of tons of basic supplies, such as blankets and canned meat, to people in need around the world every year. Several thousand volunteers regularly sort and pack these supplies at MCC's 12 material resource centers in the U.S. and Canada.

In 2007, MCC conducted a review of the material resource program that involved interviews with 500 recipients of MCC's material aid in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haiti, Indonesia and Sudan. The review also included a survey of MCC staff members, partner organizations and several hundred material resource center volunteers.

The review found that school kits, health kits, relief kits, blankets and canned meat are among the most highly valued items that MCC ships abroad.

The review recommends that MCC continue shipping highly valued items to people in crisis situations, such as wars and natural disasters. The review also recommends discontinuing some items because of higher shipping costs, environmental concerns and the possibility of purchasing items closer to their destination.

"As we look at expanding local purchase overseas, it may mean possibly less shipping from the U.S. and Canada," said David Martin, MCC material resources manager.

But material resource centers will continue to be an essential part of MCC's work, according to Martin. The review recommends that volunteers continue to sort and pack higher valued items for overseas shipment and expand other activities at material resource centers.

For example, volunteers at MCC's material resource center in Ephrata, Pa., are making rugs from the fabric of old jeans and are sorting cardboard, paper and other materials for recycling. Last year, these activities raised about $160,000 for MCC, according to Evanna Hess, material resource center manager.

According to Martin, MCC's material resource centers will stop accepting used clothing for overseas shipments by the end of 2008. Some centers may choose to accept used clothing to resell, distribute locally or use in projects such as rug-making. MCC constituents are encouraged to contact the material resource center in their province or region for more information.