Filling a container fills many needs

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<p>Beth Mehau shakes hands with BNJ Church leader Ranson Lolin of Waimea. Pictured is Tom Mehau, Lolin and Beth Mehau. (COURTESY PHOTO)</p>

Mama’s House Thrift Shop, a part of The Pantry nonprofit, has partnered with the Bokut Nan Jesus Church to fill and ship a container of much-needed lumber, clothing and resource materials to the Marshall Islands. Working with BNJ Church leader Ranson Lolin of Waimea, they hope to maximize shipping costs and reduce volume in island landfills.

Lolin said that two-by-fours and two-by-eights as well as other construction materials have already been purchased, and will be used to build new churches in the Marshall Islands. The first shipment was planned earlier this year, but shipping costs, $4-6,000 per container, were prohibitively high. Teaming up with Mama’s House and others in the community alleviates some of the financial burden and helps expedite the process.

“The Marshall Islands are made up of more than 30 atolls,” said Lolin, “and they are trying very hard to build up the economy there, developing business in fishing, farming and coconut oil.”

Lolin said that although people receive assistance from the U.S. government, income-earning options are limited and they are challenged to live on very little. Drug and alcohol abuse, as well as underage drinking, are growing concerns.

Although the BNJ Church on Hawaii Island is very small, with only about 20 members in their Kona congregation, they work hard to support their home church and Marshallese families. When he saw the amount of usable goods available at Mama’s House, Lolin was inspired to start the conversation with owners Beth and Tom Mehau.

“I worked with Tommy and Beth about a year ago and we were talking story about helping people,” said Lolin, who was astonished by the volume of usable goods donated to Mama’s House. “I thought, ‘people need this,’” he said. “The kids need this, especially babies. And families need not only clothes, but utensils, kitchen things and more.”

At the same time, Mama’s House Thrift Store is moving into a new, smaller Waimea location and must cut back on their inventory.

“The timing is perfect,” said Executive Director Beth Mehau. “I can fill that container to the top with good, usable clothes for kids, plus household items and excellent resource materials for the new Marshallese coalitions that are just getting started on drug and alcohol prevention programs,” said Mehau. “We have more than enough to pay it forward—to help families on our Island and those in need elsewhere as well.”

The group is actively seeking financial support for this project, and would more than welcome inquiries about container and shipping sponsorship. For additional information, contact Beth Mehau at The Pantry, 887-2289 or 2287.