Saturday, February 4, 2012

MMDC #6 summary of the first week

On Wednesday some of the Michigan group toured the Lincoln sites and some helped at the community kitchen. That means we worked in the warehouse. The first thing I did was sort through buttons—2 quart jars full and a shoe box full—to find 5 to 8 matching in 5/8 to 1 inch size. These will go into sewing kits. And I cut 3-yard lengths of fabric from a 140 yard bolt.

We are doing some really physical work, too. Judy (the caretaker) and I deep-cleaned half of the warehouse. We used a dolly to pull out the pallets loaded with supplies and finished boxes of kits. Then we used a shop vac to clean the rails of the storage bins and vacuum the floor. It was fun using the hydraulic dolly, but it was hard work! Tomorrow Carl will help us move the pallets so we can focus on the vacuuming.

Yesterday and today Carl got to work in the wood shop. However, the miter saw died, and Mark and Dick went out and bought a replacement. Carl has been making pieces for the student school desks.

Carl also is now responsible for going to Chatham and picking up the mail each day. Then he stops at the church on the corner up the road where packages are delivered.

I’ve been getting to sew again. We still have many, many school bags on which to reinforce the handles and finish the inside seams. Also, they’re not always made of sturdy enough fabrics. Upholstery fabric, denim, corduroy, and heavier fabrics are to be used for one-handled teacher bags and two-handled student bags.

My sewing expertise came in handy on Thursday to identify usable fabrics which have been donated. Polyester is out, and wool is not used—only woven fabrics in cotton and poly-cotton blends can be used for girls’ hospital gowns and boys’ hospital shorts. Often fabrics are stained or dirty, and they cannot be washed. There isn’t a lot of donated single-knit cotton T-shirt material for boys’ hospital shirts. That’s something that is really needed. And boys’ sleeveless T-shirts for the hospital are needed more than girls’ hospital gowns. With a ballpoint needle those T-shirt knits are easy to make.

The other day Executive Director Pat sent out 16 patterns that had been requested, so two of the Michigan gals (Sally and Linda) cut out a bunch of patterns. Then they cut more 3-yard lengths from the big bolt of fabric.

Jan and Marty and Chris packaged paperclips. EVERY paper clip must be counted and put into 2-by-3-inch zip bags. Bless their hearts for counting every box to verify that there were 100 paper clips and then filling and marking the zip bags with 50 each. These go into the Haitian teachers’ one-handle bags.

Julie, Don E., Don V., and Dick continued applying polyurethane to the school desks. First they lightly sanded the first coat that they had applied on Tuesday.

Since the Michigan team is going home Friday morning, at the end of Thursday we cleaned the workroom, a task usually completed at the end of the week. That includes wiping down the tables and sign-in counter, sweeping and mopping the floor, cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen area, vacuuming the offices and anti-fatigue floor mats, washing the windows in the entry, resupplying the bathrooms with soap and paper products, restocking the refrigerator with sodas, and emptying the trash.

After the team leaves, it is our job as Volunteer Coordinators to check the dormitory to make sure everything was put away, the refrigerator cleaned, garbage hauled out, and the floors mopped. Good job, Muskegon, Michigan!

On Friday Mark and Dick drove about an hour away for a truckload of donated furniture. Mary and I cut out hospital gowns, using some donated fabric. 

And Carl, bless his heart, spent ALL DAY cutting out 120 one-handled school bags for teachers in Haiti. He used a whole bolt of upholstery fabric. Judy finished vacuuming the warehouse.

MMDC has 2 warehouses. One is heated, and that is where any kits with chemical inside are stored. That includes health kits with toothpaste and flood cleaning buckets with detergent, disinfectant, and bug spray. Those items cannot freeze. The second warehouse is where wood, furniture, hospital machines, sewing machines, and bolts of fabric are stored. The wood shop is in one corner of the second warehouse, and the finishing room is above it. At the back of that warehouse are rooms for school desk assembly, sewing machine repair, and bicycle repair.

Treadle sewing machines are repaired by Harold. Many recipients of these machines in third world countries do not have electricity. Harold brought in the manual found inside one sewing machine cabinet—from 1890, complete with the warranty. The original price was $19.50 from the Demorest Company.

But that is not the oldest machine in the warehouse! Harold showed me one from 1868, although he is not sure he can get it running. It really should be in a museum somewhere if it cannot be used.

MMDC has other regular volunteers who repair bicycles for pastors to ride from one parish to another in foreign countries.

Caretakers Dick and Judy are going to take a couple of days off, so we will welcome the team from Poseyville, Michigan, which comes in on Sunday, and get them started volunteering on Monday.

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