Their contribution: Poplarville group donates time to mission work
Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 28, 2016
In 1963, the month of May was designated as Older Americans Month to celebrate the past and current contributions of this nation’s senior citizens.
Every Wednesday and Thursday, a group of seniors from all denominations meet at the First United Methodist Church in Poplarville to continue their contributions to the world through mission work.
There are six active mission programs at the church, mission coordinator Dale Adams said.
The average age of mission volunteers is about 70, she added. Several are in their 80s and some are close to 90-years-old.
Longtime volunteer Sarah Henry said the mission work makes them feel useful again.
“Everyone wants to be needed,” she said. “And we’re doing some wonderful things here.”
Since 2000, volunteers have been involved in the production of braille Bibles. The church works in conjunction with Lutheran Braille Workers Inc. and volunteers make about 64 children’s Bibles a month. The bound Bibles feature four books, Psalms 1 and 2, John and Chronicles.
The second project the group works on are mats for the homeless, which are constructed out of plastic bags. Bags are pressed flat, cut and crocheted and sent to Biloxi’s Seashore Mission.
The third mission project also helps the homeless at Biloxi’s Seashore Mission. Every month, volunteers travel to the mission where they serve and feed about 60 to 75 people that day.
During the school year, volunteers collect and pack food for children in need of food during the weekends.
“We found out about this program when volunteers from Picayune’s Methodist Church visited with us and explained how it works,” Adams said.
On Wednesdays, volunteers work on two projects, large-print Bibles and Days for Girls, Adams said.
The large-print Bibles are also handled by Lutheran Braille Workers Inc. Group members copy pages, punch holes on the sides and bind the books. One of the final steps involves ensuring the pages are numbered correctly. Once that’s done, the book of the Bible is stamped with the church’s name and initialed by the volunteer. Finally, they are boxed and shipped to people in need around the world, Adams said.
In February 2014, a member read an article in Oprah magazine about Days for Girls, a program that provides sanitary packages for girls in third world countries where sanitary products are not available, Adams said.
Once a representative from the international non-profit spoke to the group about the program, they decided to join the New Orleans chapter.
“This mission struck a chord for me,” Henry said.
Adams said many of these girls have to miss school due to a lack of feminine hygiene products.
Everything volunteers make is made possible through product and monetary donations, Adams said.
Having the ability to share God’s blessings and helping people is one of the main reasons Adams enjoys the mission work.
“I’m blessed every day I wake up at my age to do the Lord’s work,” she said. “My favorite part is the fellowship. So many older Americans don’t have access to that. It’s an important thing to have.”
According to the Older Americans Month website, President John F. Kennedy designated May as Senior Citizens Month, the prelude to the current designation in 1963.
At that time, about 17 million Americans had reached the age of 65, the website states.
Around one-third of those citizens lived in poverty and there were few programs established to meet their specific needs. Every president since Kennedy has delivered a proclamation during this month asking the nation to pay tribute to older persons in their community, the website states.
Learn more about Older Americans Month at http://oam.acl.gov/.