News Articles

Baptists send 36,000 blankets to Albanian Kosovar refugees

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–More than 36,000 blankets — a love gift from Southern Baptists — set sail for Kosovo Sept. 30, said Jean McDaniel, transportation freight specialist at the International Mission Board.
The blankets were sealed in 12 40-foot containers and loaded onto the SL Meteor docked in Norfolk, Va., for the three-week trip ahead. From there the ship was to travel to New York, then across the Atlantic to offload in Thessaloniki, Greece.
A trucking company will carry the blankets across Macedonia and into Pristina, the Yugoslav province’s capital, where warehouses are waiting.
“In my wildest imagination, I couldn’t have imagined the response this big in such a short time,” McDaniel said. “It’s unreal.”
The “Blanket Kosovo With Love” project began in August as the board’s response to thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees returning to Kosovo and facing a harsh winter climate similar to America’s Colorado Rockies.
“It will start getting cold in October, and those affected by the war face a long winter with little protection from the cold,” said Jim Brown, the board’s human needs consultant.
As many as 860,000 Kosovar Albanians fled or were expelled from the province of Yugoslavia in the spring. The vast majority returned to find their homes destroyed by Serbs or damaged by NATO bombs.
The blankets, all new and made of wool, Vellux or with a thermal weave, were each labeled “Zoti ju bekoft,” or “God loves you” in Albanian, and “Southern Baptist in America’s Love Gift to Kosovo” on brightly colored tags.
McDaniel was touched by the quality and care put into the blankets.
“There were baby blankets, children’s blankets,” she said. “People had crocheted blankets. There were handmade quilts.”
She recalls a Southern Baptist who said local churches literally “cleaned out every blanket” in the stores in his town for the drive.
McDaniel said shipments, coordinated by Baptist Men and Woman’s Missionary Union leaders in each state, came from all over the country — Wyoming, Indiana, even flood-ravaged North Carolina.
“One of the trucks was completely packed,” she said. “There were blankets everywhere — even crammed under the seats.”
To top it off, Eagle Shipping in Richmond, Va., donated warehouse space free of charge, Brown said.
Southern Baptists give generously and sacrificially when it comes to reaching the world for Christ, he noted.
“People partnering together always has a way of bringing about great things, and this is case in point for Southern Baptists,” he said. “The response of Southern Baptists ministers to me in the midst of our own natural disasters here in the U.S.”
Since shipping costs are expected to total more than $40,000, funds that trickle in past the Sept. 15 cut-off date are welcomed, said McDaniel. Money also will be used to purchase new blankets on the field.
Checks can be sent to International Mission Board, Hunger and Relief Fund Kosovo Blanket Project, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230.

    About the Author

  • Jenny Rogers