Franklin Baptist Church donates hygiene kits to Harvey’s victims

Published 10:56 am Friday, September 8, 2017

Lifelong Franklin residents Bill and Jackie Howell know what it’s like to live through major flooding, having survived Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Tropical Storm Ernesto in 2006. That’s why they’ve made it their mission to help provide relief anytime a similar catastrophe hits the United States.

On Thursday morning, the Howells and 25 to 30 other parishioners in Franklin Baptist Church packaged over 500 personal hygiene kits intended for distribution to the parts of Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey, and potentially for anyone in Florida affected by Hurricane Irma.

“They could go either place,” said Pastor Charles Qualls as he performed quality control on the completed kits, inspecting them to ensure they contained all the necessary supplies.

Qualls said that the Howells had put out a list of requested supplies to parishioners a few weeks ago and that many volunteers had started packaging kits or buying supplies in bulk before Labor Day. The supplies included in each kit are items that the Red Cross has specifically requested. Each kit is supposed to include one bar of soap, hand lotion, shampoo, deodorant, a wash cloth, brush, comb, shaving cream, razors, a toothbrush, toothpaste and facial tissues.

The church’s efforts are being coordinated through Virginia Baptist Disaster Relief, which partners with the Red Cross.

Qualls estimated that he and other volunteers at the church had packaged about 50 boxes as of 10:30 a.m., each containing 12 hygiene kits. Hubs Peanuts, headquartered in Sedley, donated the boxes and the packing tape.

“We started with [Hurricane] Katrina with mass feedings,” said Jackie Howell, explaining how she and her husband first started their relief efforts. “We’ve been to Liberty, Texas; Richmond; Gloucester; North Carolina; and Buckhannon, West Virginia.

“When we do disaster feeding, we do 10,000 to 12,000 meals per day. The Baptist feeding kitchens work with the Red Cross and FEMA. They tell us how much they need and where it needs to go.”

“Our goal was to do 175 hygiene kits,” Bill Howell said. “The community has been fantastic in their donations.”

“We just sent to the mission board 324 completed packets, and I have another 200 completed,” Jackie added. “We hope to do another 150 in the morning.”

Qualls said that the packaged boxes will be delivered via an RV pulled by a pickup truck, which church volunteers will give out at feeding stations in the affected areas. All volunteers responsible for transporting and distributing the supplies have been trained and certified by the Red Cross.