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Duffle bag ministry: Montrose UMC shares God's love

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

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Sandy Krumvieda, left, holds up a duffle bag and Adele Kpp, right shows a box of duffle bags ready for delivery. Photo courtesy of Montrose UMC.

"It is a simple thing. We give duffle bags to kids that are moving from place to place. Who would have imagined that we could bring Jesus to these kids in this unique way," said Sandy Krumvidea, a member of Montrose UMC and coordinator of the mission efforts.

In 2021, a member of the United Methodist Church in Montrose, South Dakota, welcomed a foster child into their home. When she picked up the child, they only had a black garbage bag with their belongings.

"That is kind of demeaning to a teenager. We got the idea that maybe we should get some suitcases for these kids," said Sandy Krumvieda. "They need something if they are moving from place to place. We settled on duffle bags."

One of the mission team members called around to different places—Child Protective Services, Abbott House, and McCrossen's Boy Ranch. They found there was a need.

"She took the bull by the horns and started looking for good deals on duffle bags. Our first year, we gave out 75," Sandy said. "We give out two sizes, large, 22 inches, and medium, 20 inches. We also add a note that says, 'A gift from Montrose United Methodist Church.'"

In the second year, the congregation of 110, with an average worship attendance of 40, provided 95 duffle bags. Last year, 105 children got duffle bags after leaving a facility or foster home.

"It's something they can have the rest of their life," said Sandy. "We just provide something so they can leave and go to their next place with dignity."

Funds for the duffle bags and other work of the Montrose UMC's mission team come from the fourth Sunday collection.

Sandy describes the offering. "We have what we call the Fourth Sunday Offering. On the fourth Sunday of the month, a special offering is collected. The committee gets together at the beginning of the year and picks four different offering recipients—one for every three months. The third quarter of the year is dedicated to the duffle bag ministry. In the spring, kids will leave places like McCrossen's Boys Ranch because of graduation."

The congregation's Fourth Sunday Offering supports two food pantries in Salem and Humboldt, South Dakota. This year, one quarter was dedicated to the Union Gospel Mission in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to help repair after a fire.

"At Christmas time, we ask the food pantries and other places what items are needed. We will buy those things and put them under the tree. It is a way to share the spirit of Christmas instead of giving gifts to each other," shared Sandy. "We have bought food items for the food pantries. We have also done paper products like towels, tissues, and toilet paper. Last year, we did feminine hygiene products and diapers."

The United Methodist Church is one of three churches in the community. There is also a Catholic church and a Missouri Synod Lutheran church. Montrose UMC holds a Wednesday night program instead of Sunday School.

Sandy proudly states, "I can't tell you how many kids there are in the program. I go to choir practice as the kids are finishing, and it seems like there is a lot—they keep coming. The program is open to the whole community."

Vacation Bible School is a joint effort of Montrose UMC and the local Catholic church. The two congregations take turns hosting. Sandy is grateful for the pastoral leadership of Rev. Valerie Hummel LaBounty.

"Our pastor is young. She welcomes everyone. We are blessed with the many gifts she brings to the community," said Sandy.

Sandy invites other congregations to consider joining or multiplying the duffle bag ministry. She states that many agencies and organizations support foster children. These agencies and organizations would welcome the effort. When asked why she is involved in this ministry, she said, "I guess it is how I was brought up, to give instead of doing stuff for yourself. It makes you feel good knowing it is appreciated and needed."

UMC

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