Add the MCC’s general relief sale to the long list of activities moving online in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
The decision to cancel the live event scheduled for New Hamburg at the end of May was not made easily, said Mennonite Central Committee spokesperson Sheryl Bruggeling, adding it was a necessary move.
“The safety of our supporters and volunteers and everybody else involved with the relief sale is paramount and of utmost importance to us. In light of the current public health crisis, we made the difficult decision to cancel the sale.”
Typically, the relief sale is a two-day event that offers works by artisans, local food and a quilt auction, which is the big attraction and a key fundraiser for the organization.
“The entire event is in support of the MCC and all the relief development and peace efforts that we do around the world.”
Three meetings were held to determine how the MCC would go about forming alternative plans for the general relief sale.
“We have different components,” explained Bruggeling. “One of the components is the quilt auction and then the other items to the indoor and outdoor auction and we have a silent auction.”
The quilt auction currently has 181 quilts, but organizers are going to drop the amount to 100. The quilts and some other items will be auctioned off online on May 30.
“We’re picking the number 100 because it’s the MCC centennial year,” said Bruggeling.
Initially, there was proposal being presented to volunteers and volunteer heads to host a couple of mini relief sales in the fall in different locations around the region. The mini sales would include the other 81 quilts and a variety of food items. However, the difficult logistics led the organization to opt for one general relief sale at some point in the fall.
Bruggeling says the agency is supporting people in need during the current pandemic.
“The MCC is well-positioned through its ongoing work to address the threats of COVID-19 for some of the world’s most vulnerable people, including people displaced from their homes. MCC is scaling up water, sanitation, hygiene and health and food work,” she said.
Closer to home, the organization is facing some issues related to the lockdown, both with its own operations and those donors who typically support MCC’s activities such as the relief sales.
“This current crisis has resulted in the closure of several of our thrift stores and the cancellation of several of these relief sales.”
Efforts to mark MCC’s centennial year include actions globally in developing countries all over the globe such as Syria and Iraq. Donations from relief sales will benefit both the local community and global measures. On April 15, Rick Cober Bauman, executive director of MCC Canada, hosted the organization’s first webinar. A large focus was on centennial year projects, with MCC looking for 2,000 relief kits and 8,000 hygiene kits during the COVID-19 epidemic to help the less fortunate in these countries.
“Facing some deep tragedies and losses and the generous response from a small group of people in Canada and the US was the beginning of MCC, and over the past century we have moved towards dealing with these in a passionate, Christ-filled way to deal with these issues,” he said.