When Christine Djalleta got the idea to make Personal Care Kits for Lutheran World Relief after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, she couldn’t have guessed how big her idea would become.
Christine originally got enough supplies to make eight Kits, then asked her pastor, the Rev. Dr. Sandra Ellis-Killian at St. John’s Lutheran in Ambler, PA, if she could request more from their small congregation. Pr. Ellis-Killian agreed and thought assembling Kits would make a good Lenten project.
“The forty days of Lent call us to deep and sustained self-examination,” she says. “It’s a time to search out the ways we persist in self-absorption; the ways we live, even without realizing it, with a sense of entitlement; the ways we buffer hard realities with comforts that let us evade them… This project gave us the satisfaction of hands-on involvement.”
Members began donating supplies and soon realized they could get better prices if they ordered in bulk. They started ordering towels, combs and other supplies in sets of 144.
“I soon realized that I had forgotten that St. John’s is known as the little church with the big heart!” says Christine.
The congregation found a church that agreed to take their completed Kits to the New Windsor, MD, warehouse by truck. They soon delivered 432 Kits to Little Zion Lutheran Church in Telford, PA. But their ministry was not yet finished.
“Then we started having what our congregation president called a ‘cereal and milk’ problem,” says Christine. “You have some milk left in your bowl, so you pour in a little more cereal, but then you need more milk to moisten that cereal, etc. This is what happened with our supplies.”
On January 31 this year, St. John’s delivered another 301 Personal Care Kits to Little Zion, bringing their total to an incredible 733 Kits from an expected 20.
“With each Kit, we had the opportunity to think about the people who would use them, to pray for them, to be mindful of our own blessings and all we take for granted,” says Pr. Ellis-Killian. “Seeing the baskets of Kits sitting right in front of the altar, just underneath the Bread and the Wine, reminded us that we are the Body of Christ in the world.”
St. John’s ministry shows the power of working together to be Jesus’ hands and feet for people devastated by natural disasters and war. The simple items included in a Personal Care Kit can comfort a refugee fleeing a flood or conflict. St. John’s story shows what an impact even a small church can have through a Lenten project, and it stands as an inspiration to church groups assembling Kits for Baskets of Promise.