Kind hearts and busy hands

Volunteers Carol Shaw, recording secretary; Barb Coleman; and Diane Hutchison, past president of the diocese’s ACW. Photo by Gloria Hockley.
Volunteers Carol Shaw, recording secretary; Barb Coleman; and Diane Hutchison, past president of the diocese’s ACW. Photo by Gloria Hockley.
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Dorcas outreach ministry sends much needed items to the Diocese of Caledonia

Members and friends of the Anglican Church Women (ACW) met at St John the Baptist Church Hall in Duncan on Tuesday, October 26, 2021, to sort donations and pack boxes for our annual outreach to the Diocese of Caledonia. In accordance with COVID-19 rules, the volunteers were divided into two shifts, the sorters in the morning shift and the packers arriving at noon.

Part of the morning shift left Salt Spring Island on the 6 a.m. ferry and were at work by 7 a.m., the remainder began at 8 a.m. Sets were attached together and donations were sorted into categories, counted and divided into six assortments, each containing a share of sweaters, toques, mitts and gloves, socks, layettes (with baby essentials), other baby items, toys, Joy Bags (containing personal care items), afghans, quilts, new clothing and any other personal household items.

Volunteers Barb Coleman, representative for Cowichan Malaspina; and Katharine Ellis, past treasurer of the diocese’s ACW. Photo by Gloria Hockley.
Volunteers Barb Coleman, representative for Cowichan Malaspina; and Katharine Ellis, past treasurer of the diocese’s ACW. Photo by Gloria Hockley.

Six packing stations were set up around the hall for Masset, Old Massett, Port Edward, Vanderhoof, Fort St. James and Fraser Lake. There was an envelope for each station containing a Christmas letter and acknowledgement forms for inside the boxes, and address and return address labels for the outside. The assortments were distributed to these stations ready for the packing crew. The early shift worked so hard and were so efficient that the packing stations were assembled by 10:30 a.m.

The second crew arrived at noon and handled the heavy part of the task. Two husbands (one from Pender Island and the other from Parksville) quickly made up the boxes and then, after they were packed, taped them closed, attached the outside labels and moved them to the collection point for mailing. The rest of the group packed the boxes tightly, distributing the weight as evenly as possible. This group, too, put in wonderful effort and were finished by mid-afternoon.

The following day, Gail Crawford had her mailing crew deliver the boxes to the post office and she arranged the processing. Fortunately, the boxes were on their way before the bad weather hit. Those being distributed through Vanderhoof arrived at their post office by November 3, followed by those to Port Edward the next day. The ones for Haida Gwaii took longer, but arrived safely. This is record speed for Canada Post.

I want to send special thanks to Gail for the mailing; to Barbara Coleman for unlocking the door for us at 7 a.m. and then staying to work for the rest of the day; to the volunteers who came and worked so hard; to the many, many people who knitted, sewed, crocheted and quilted to provide the donations; and to those who provided yarn for the knitting kits. We need you all to carry out this mission.

Despite this generosity, we were very short of baby sleepers and onesies for the layettes and had none to put in as extras. Because of COVID-19, the usual baby showers, for these and other baby items, could not be held. Please keep in mind during the year to come that these items are very necessary and hard to come by in many of the communities in the northern part of the province, so gather what, where, and when you can. All donations of new items are much appreciated, so be assured that they bring smiles to the faces of young and old.

As many of you know, this Dorcas WA/ACW outreach ministry to the Diocese of Caledonia has been active since prior to 1861. The British Colonist, in the fall of that year, published an article about the ladies gathering at Christ Church Cathedral to pack the bales and enjoy tea together. The ministry is named for Dorcas, who is described in The Acts of the Apostles as doing “many good things and many acts of kindness,” which included sewing clothes for the poor. Many Dorcas societies were established in the 1800s to provide clothing to the less fortunate.

Our diocese chose to help the needy in the early missions in Caledonia and has carried on to this day. However, with diminishing numbers of ACW branches and members, it has become harder and harder to fulfill this ministry, so please do your best. Recruit friends and neighbours, they don’t need to be Anglican to help. Many people are lonely at this time, and Dorcas can give them an opportunity to feel helpful and increase their human contact. All we need are kind hearts and busy hands.

Author

  • Alice Trueman is the Dorcas Secretary. For more information about the Dorcas outreach ministry please contact Alice by email at [email protected] or by phone at 1-250-538-0211.