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Southern Baptists plan to ‘Blanket Kosovo with Love’


RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Winter comes early in Kosovo, and Southern Baptists are launching an effort to help recently returned ethnic Albanian refugees there cope with the harsh conditions ahead.
“It’s hard to imagine it here in the United States in August, but the climate in Kosovo is very much like America’s Colorado Rockies,” said Jim Brown, the International Mission Board’s human needs consultant. “It will start getting cold in October, and those affected by the war face a long winter with little protection from the cold.”
One pressing need for hundreds of thousands of former refugees will be blankets to protect them from the cold, Brown said. Under the theme, “Blanket Kosovo with Love,” the International Mission Board is mobilizing Southern Baptists to collect new blankets to keep people from suffering so much this winter.
As many as 860,000 Kosovar Albanians fled or were expelled from the province of Yugoslavia in the spring. The vast majority have returned to find their homes destroyed by Serbs or damaged by NATO bombs.
“We only have until mid-September to get a shipment off to Kosovo if it’s going to get there in time to do any good,” Brown said. “We need to respond immediately.
“We need new blankets of any size. They should be wool, Vellux or thermal blankets, but not cotton because cotton isn’t warm enough for that climate,” he said. “They will be labeled, ‘God bless you,’ in Albanian and will say, ‘Southern Baptists in America’s Love Gifts to Kosovo’ in English.”
In addition to the blanket collection, Baptist workers in Kosovo are continuing food distribution efforts and volunteer teams also are repairing war-damaged houses to prepare them for winter, Brown said.
Baptist Men and Woman’s Missionary Union leaders in each state are being asked to coordinate state and local collection points, but a central warehouse in Richmond, Va., has been established, Brown said.
Congregations and individuals who do not have access to a state or local collection station may send their blankets to: Kosovo Project, c/o Eagle USA, 5762 Charles City Circle, Richmond, VA 23231. Donations must arrive at that address before Sept. 15. Blankets will be repacked there for shipment overseas.
Churches planning to establish collection points should relay that information to the International Mission Board so human needs workers can help callers locate a collection point near them, Brown said. To contact the human needs office, call toll-free 800-999-3113, ext. 1675 or ext. 1736.