SALT LAKE CITY -- There is a hub of humanitarian relief effort here that draws people to this city from many Western states to spend a week sewing items and assembling kits for those in need around the globe.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief has a small warehouse, called UMCOR West, at 1479 S. 700 West. It's one of a handful of such warehouses UMCOR has across the country.
The warehouse is a destination point for mission trips for not only Methodists but also for members of all faiths and spiritual backgrounds.
"The great thing about UMCOR in general, we are faith-based but we are nonproselytizing," said the Rev. Brian Diggs, who runs the warehouse. "We can have people of any affiliation come in."
He said his facility is a great way to get people from outside of the state to see the "wonderful, unique culture here."
UMCOR is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to alleviating human suffering around the globe.
UMCOR's work reaches people in more than 80 countries, including the U.S., according to information distributed by the group.
UMCOR provides humanitarian relief when war, conflict and natural disasters disrupt life to such an extent that a community is unable to recover on its own.
The warehouse, which opened May 31, 2009, also draws various groups from within the state to participate in the effort.
Youths from Community United Methodist Church in Riverdale, for instance, travel to the warehouse one Sunday a quarter to work on various projects.
These projects include:
* Clean-birthing kits.
* Disaster-relief kits.
* School-supply kits.
* Sewing kits.
* New-child kits.
* Health and hygiene kits.
* Buckets with cleaning supplies.
Diggs said a lot of people don't realize that, in many places throughout the world, such supplies aren't available to people, even if they have the money for them.
And with items such as school supplies, children can feel like their lives are returning to normal as they are able to learn again.
He said the clean-birthing kits save the lives of mothers and babies all over the world.
The cleaning buckets, which contain items such as a clothesline, scrubbers, detergents and cleaning gloves, are allowed only where needed in the U.S.
"We want to be there in the first 48 hours," Diggs said, "but we want to be there in the first 48 months if we need to be."
Diggs said UMCOR partners with other relief organizations when possible.
Generally, he said, different organizations have their specialties to provide for those in need. For instance, the Baptist Church is known for providing showers in disaster situations.
Most groups traveling from outside of Utah to help with UMCOR projects, Diggs said, work Monday through Friday for seven hours a day on the projects there, and spend half a day working at Welfare Square.
He said the groups usually visit attractions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while they are in town. "We are just 14 blocks south of the LDS Temple."
The UMCOR warehouse is booked almost solid through the next year. Those wishing to help at the warehouse during the week likely will have to plan some time in advance.
But Diggs said he does have some weekend slots available periodically through the year. If a group of 10 or more agrees to come on a given Saturday that isn't already booked, he'll open up the warehouse to them, he said.
But he said his facility is not large enough to handle groups of more than 25 at one time.
He said he also relies on local groups to fill slots in December, January and February, when various groups are more wary of traveling.
Diggs said people of all ages enjoy the work. "You can be 80 or 8 and work side by side."
Diggs said he also can provide patterns and materials for those who want to sew items at home and donate the finished products to the effort. The patterns are on the website advancinghope.org.
That website also is where individuals and groups wanting to make financial contributions may donate.
Diggs said 100 percent of the donations go into programs. "Zero goes toward administrative costs."
For information or to schedule a time to help in the warehouse, call Diggs at 801-973-7250.