Monday, October 15, 2018

Visit to Compassionate Warehouse

by Janet Mitchell

On Friday, October 12, 2018, Barbara, Bin-Sie, Linda, Janet and I went to the Compassionate Warehouse in Esquimalt.  

We learned that the mission venture began in 1999 by a retired RN, Dell Marie Wergeland.  When she returned from a visit to impoverished, Honduras, she decided she must do something to help. Dell attends the Church of the Nazarene and the church supported her efforts. The first container full of needed items went to Honduras that year.  Since then there have been 471 containers sent to various places in the world.  The 472 container is currently in Delta getting loaded on a ship to Moldova. It costs $10,000 to $15,000 to ship one container.
 Sometimes specific requests are made.  Orphanages may need plates or cutlery. Ground sheets and blankets may be needed following a disaster in an impoverished country.  There are also times when many sewing machines are sent to a volunteer teaching sewing in a poor area. Electric sewing machines are okay to donate because they can often convert them to be used with a hand crank.
The containers are full of medical supplies, medical equipment, tools, clothing, school supplies, sports equipment, non-breakable kitchen wares, sewing machines, sewing kits, hospital linen, household linen, towels, toys (non battery), embroidery supplies, wool, crochet supplies, art supplies, kitchen utensils and cutlery, kitchen pots and pans and 5 gallon cleaned buckets with lids. 

The workers use biscuit tins to pack cutlery or tools, etc. Shoe boxes and other durable boxes are packed with various items.  Every tin, bucket, box, etc. is labeled with its contents and by number.  The numbers tell them when the items arrived so that they can ship out the oldest items first.  Shoe stores give them boxes.  However, they would be pleased to receive your biscuit tins or boxes, too.

  Electrical appliances are not accepted as most of the countries where the containers are sent have no electricity.  A retired registered physiotherapist volunteers regularly in Haiti. She cleverly refits wheelchairs to suit those in needs.  She is currently refitting a wheelchair to suit a young boy.  It is wonderful she is so handy at adapting the equipment changing the wheelchairs or walkers.  
One volunteer was in the yarn and material section. 
She does quilting and a group of volunteers take small pieces of material home to make quilts to send overseas.  Our tour guide normally works in the office and school supply section.  In this section the workers sort supplies for students into donated backpacks.  Items useful for teachers are separated as well.  One elderly man takes home pencils to sharpen and discards pens that do not work before they are shipped.
There were men at the warehouse organizing tools. They need to sand off rust from tools or tighten screws, etc. They spend a lot of time sorting screws and nails into the correct sizes. They also carefully wrap long handled tools like shovels so that the sharp ends do not cause harm to anyone when the containers are opened. 
Stuffed animals are used as packing material and also bring joy to young children.
Old sheets are used for bandages so do donate faded and even sheets with holes. They are needed.  The people receiving items are very appreciative. They make good use of everything.  There were numerous pictures of happy people holding or using donated items such as the smiling children in the Ukraine with donated bicycles or the two happy teenage girls in Iran holding sewing machines.  There was also a very happy young woman wearing a donated wedding dress. 

The warehouse is open on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Volunteers are always welcome and can work as little as an hour each month.  The warehouse is located on Devonshire Road in Esquimalt.  For more information phone (250) 381-4483 or email them at Their website is:

Monetary gifts and donations of useful items are very welcome.  At SPPC we have a large box for donated items.  It is located under the coat hangers near our front entrance.  There is a big CW sign on it.

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