The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada will be moving its central material resources warehouse to Waterloo Region in a move to distribute relief supplies more rapidly. The facility will be relocated to New Hamburg from Plum Coulee, Man. starting April 1.
When the move is complete, the warehouse will become the only one in Canada that helps pack and distribute items such as relief kits.
Moving closer to an international port is the main goal of this move, as the kits and other items ship to Montreal before heading to their final destination. But John Head, executive director of MCC Ontario, says sometimes items are packed at both locations before heading to Montreal, and by consolidating the warehouse locally, it allows things to move quicker and send items to locations with less delay.
“Most of our containers that we ship for our overseas relief go across the Atlantic, so closer to where we would ship from Montreal [made this] a more strategic location than Manitoba. When we ship a container, we fill it both at the Manitoba location and our [New Hamburg] location – we have two warehouses in Canada. Every time we ship, because we’re closer to Montreal, it can get the material aid shipped more promptly,” said Head. “Sometimes a partial shipment would come from Manitoba to here and then we would finish loading the container and then ship it. But the less you handle it the more efficient you can be. So, it’s an efficiency move as well.”
The warehouse in Ontario was originally located at the MCC headquarters in Kitchener. It was then moved to New Hamburg when space was found at a location deemed much more efficient.
Staff and volunteers normally pack and then ship items such as relief kits, hygiene kits, comforters, and canned meats. Head says because of COVID-19, they have had to scale that back and have limited the work to just staff.
“Our material aid function depends significantly on volunteers to help with packing, but in this pandemic that we’re in right now, we’ve had to limit that to just staff and a very small number of staff working while social distancing and doing it after normal hours,” he added.
While this building is more efficient because of the pandemic situation, they will still have to be more careful with regards to staff safety and will not be able to welcome back volunteers for some time. Even though volunteers cannot take part in the packing of items, community members can still help by donating to help purchase and pack hygiene kits and relief kits, Head added.
“The requests for hygiene kits and relief kits are greater than ever because of the implications of COVID, so we’re running low on supplies. For a donation of $5 it will purchase everything needed for a hygiene kit, or for $35 [it] will purchase a relief kit for a family of four.”
The consolidation of the warehouses will start April 1 and take a few months. It is expected that the Manitoba warehouse will close in June and make the New Hamburg location the only central material resources warehouse in Canada.