Medical supplies readied for Russia Methodists sending 70,000 pounds NORTHWEST -- Taneytown * Union Bridge * New Windsor * Uniontown

February 12, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

A $5 million shipment of medicine will leave the New Windsor Service Center for Russia today with the blessings of area clergy.

"I feel the sweet spirit in this place, and I rejoice as we send that spirit on," said Christine Keels, as about 50 people joined hands in prayer yesterday at the center's distribution building.

The group dedicated 70,000 pounds of goods, ranging from aspirin to X-ray supplies. The shipment will fill critical shortages in Russia.

"The need in Russia is great and significant in light of all that is happening in that country," said the Rev. Charles Carnahan of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. "They are unable to keep up with demand for medical products we take for granted."

Diabetics in Moscow can't get insulin. Doctors have no antibiotics to treat infection, and the elderly have no access to pain relievers. Few people can afford the $10 cost of a small pack of aspirin, he said.

"It is time to inventory who we are and where we're going," said the Rev. Bernard Keels, district superintendent of the Baltimore Northwest District of the United Methodist Church. "The world is our parish and we must help people, not out of pity but out of obligation."

Global Ministries placed a request for medicine, warehoused in New Windsor, through Interchurch Medical Assistance, an independent, nonprofit organization that procures medical supplies for distribution to overseas missions. The donation will be distributed to several hospitals in Moscow.

The shipment, one of the largest ever processed at the center, took about a week to prepare, said Loretta Wolf, distribution director. It will be loaded on the center's trucks and transported to Dulles International Airport.

Last year, the center shipped $29 million worth of medicine and clothing to the needy around the world, said Miller Davis, director of center operations. Sixty percent of that was shipped on behalf of IMA.

An $85,000 grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief is paying for the cost of storage, packing and freight. Transportation Logistics Inc. of Anne Arundel County is handling the overseas connections.

"We plan to have everything loaded onto a 747 freight plane in Frankfort [Germany] by Thursday for a flight to Moscow," said Gregory J. McCloskey, president of TLI.

IMA will have "people on the ground there who will make sure the shipment gets to the needy," said Paul Derstine, executive director of Interchurch Medical Assistance.

Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Collegeville, Pa., donated much of the medicine for the shipment. The company does not sell any medication with less than a year to expiration, said Steve Gable, senior planner with the company.

"When a product is too short-dated to sell, we donate it to IMA," said Mr. Gable. "For me, it's rewarding to see products put to good use."

The donation shows the needy that people care in practical ways, said Mr. Carnahan.

"Each time this occurs, it lets people know they are not alone in their struggle to shape their country and their lives," he said.

The Methodist church is the first Protestant denomination to "be in ministry and dialogue with Russia," said Mr. Keels.

"This is a glorious day that shows ministry happens in more places than 11 a.m. Sunday services," he said.

"We can't be in Moscow, but we can be united in spirit," Mr. Keels said.

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