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Meet The Packers

Thousands Of Volunteers Participate In GAiN Event

Nestled among the cornfields at 1506 Quarry Road in Mount Joy is the Global Aid Network (GAiN) distribution center, the hub for the international ministry's efforts to serve people in need around the world through relief and development projects.

Volunteers came from throughout Lancaster County and the surrounding counties and states, and from as far away as Texas, to help at the center's packing event on Oct. 19 to 22. Nearly 500 individuals joined efforts each day to pack clothing and blankets and to trace, cut, and sew reusable feminine hygiene products that are shipped to refugees, orphans, and others who are living in poverty.

GAiN welcomed volunteers of all ages - from students from Gehmans Mennonite School, Ephrata Mennonite School, Northern Lebanon Middle and High schools, and York Catholic High School, all the way up to 100-year-old Nell Nixon, who has been traveling from Atlanta to Lancaster to help at GAiN packing events in June and October since 1994. Nell was accompanied by her son, Boyd Nixon, who said that Nell has also made eight trips to serve at aid distribution centers in Russia.

This October, Nell worked on the beaded Gospel story bracelets that are often included in aid deliveries. GAiN Logistics Center director Phil Liller said that 50,000 bracelets are being sent to Samaritan's Purse, the organization that distributes the Operation Christmas Child boxes.

During the packing event, GAiN sent two 40-foot containers of food to Cuba for the first time to provide relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. GAiN president and CEO Al Goff said that the Baracoa area in eastern Cuba was hit the hardest, and the Cuban government was allowing shipments of humanitarian aid from Lancaster.

"Our goal is to demonstrate the kindness of God in places like Cuba, where people are without help and without hope," Goff said. "Our prayer is that this food, care, and support will show them that they are loved by people in the United States."

A quick glance around the GAiN warehouse at the hundreds of individuals sewing, sorting, and packing during the event revealed a lot of the love that Goff referenced. Some local residents volunteer on a weekly basis to quilt and to sew the feminine hygiene products, dubbed "luopads." The washable luopads consist of a layer of bath towel with flannel sewn around it and snaps on each side.

Liller explained that luopads help to restore the dignity of women around the world and oftentimes enable girls in other countries to continue attending school instead of being confined to their homes. "This was something that we just weren't aware of how great the need was until recently," he said, noting that the luopad project began in 2014.

Mount Joy resident Darlene Miller is part of a group of volunteers who work on the project at the center on a weekly basis. "There's about a dozen to 30 of us, and we've become a sisterhood," Miller said. "We have tracers, cutters, and sewers, so there's a whole range of us and we all kind of have our niche."

The core group includes women from Lancaster, Lititz, Leola, Palmyra, and Downingtown, and they usually break mid-morning for a time of devotions together.

"I enjoy sewing, but I enjoy the fellowship even more," Miller said. "Just working with these women is really special, and we're all working on something for a common goal."

GAiN partners with Cru, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ, to share the love of Jesus Christ in more than 191 countries through the provision of food and agriculture, clean water, and critical aid. For additional details, readers may contact GAiN at 717-285-4220 or visit http://www.gainusa.org.

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