WEYBURN – A steel rail container located on Queen Street in Weyburn is a collection depot for Winkler-based Faith Mission, where clothes and other items can be donated for distribution to former Soviet Union countries of Eastern Europe.
Nathan Elias of Faith Mission paid a visit to the Weyburn area and spoke about the purpose of the collection depot, and where the items will be distributed.
The container unit has a door on the south end with a small room where donated items can be left, and the items are regularly moved into the locked storage part of the container until there is enough to be sent on to Winkler and then overseas.
The items include clothing, shoes and boots, bedding and blankets, and bicycles, and they will be sent overseas primarily to Ukraine, but also to other former Soviet states like the Republic of Georgia, Estonia, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan. Items they do not want donated are breakables, like dishes and glass items, or other household items.
Locally, Faith Mission has connected with the Mennonite Church in Yellow Grass, who have agreed to look after the depot site for the charity. Elias noted that Faith Mission is not associated with any particular denomination, and added he would gladly come to make a presentation to any churches or other groups in Weyburn and area if they would like to hear more about the charity and their work.
“We work with different churches there,” said Elias. “They use the donated items as a tool to spread the Word of God whenever they distribute the clothing to the needy there.”
He noted they also distribute Christmas gift boxes in Ukraine and surrounding areas, similar to what Samaritan’s Purse does with Operation Christmas Child.
“It’s amazing how the people there are looking for answers. They’re very open and responsive to receive the physical gifts but also they appreciate the spiritual side of it,” he said.
The container has been in place in Weyburn for about a year and a half, and it’s been emptied three times, the last one being at Christmas time when the container was fairly full.
A surprise for the group are the large number of bicycles that have been donated, and they are greatly appreciated in Ukraine and the other countries they’re shipped to.
“It’s a different mentality over there. Many of them can’t afford a vehicle, and they ride them to go to work and to church. There’s been lots of bikes dropped off here,” he said.
Elias noted they had been assisting the church in Yellow Grass, and “they wanted to do something to help others, and there was a need for this in the area, so we bought this container and had it located here.”
He added that as more people have been learning about the depot and the purpose for it, there will be more donations made.
“When we first started in Winkler, the first year was fairly slow. Now, we need more volunteers to come and sort it and bale it,” said Elias, noting they have volunteers who also come and do any mending of clothes as needed before they are sorted and baled for shipping overseas. Faith Mission will be soon opening in a newer, larger building in Winkler.
In addition to the distribution of clothing, shoes, bedding and bicycles, the mission also holds children’s camps in Ukraine and Moldova, and has been helping church groups get their own church buildings, which weren’t possible under the former Communist regimes.