April 20, 2019

Churches send winter clothing to Yugoslavia

Parishioners at some Orono and Old Town churches have collected about 300 pounds of clothing which began a long journey Monday to war-torn Yugoslavia.

The ecumenical effort, hailed as a success by its coordinators, netted about 300 pounds of winter clothing to help refugees in the south-central European country that has been pounded by civil war in recent months.

Jim Wagner, a coordinator of the clothing drive, praised the generosity of local contributors. He said Coles Express transportation company of Bangor has agreed to truck the clothing to Rhode Island free of charge.

From Rhode Island the clothing will be taken to New York City, where a Catholic refugee relief committee will sort and pack it, Wagner said.

The New York group has been sending a 40-ton container of clothing weekly to Yugoslavia. Wagner said the clothing from the Orono area would help mainly people in the Republic of Croatia, an area in the northern part of Yugoslavia that has suffered severe damage in the war.

On Monday, Wagner and others were busy packing clothing at the United Methodist Church of Orono. A call to Coles Express earlier in the afternoon had produced quick action, Wagner said. The trucking company was scheduled to pick up the load of clothing at 3 p.m., about two hours after getting word of the drive.

Winter coats, long underwear, blankets, sleeping bags and down comforters were among the articles donated. Wagner estimated the clothing would fill three minivans.

The civil war in Yugoslavia has resulted in about 3,000 deaths and left half a million people homeless, Wagner said.

Several Yugoslavian students are taking graduate courses at the University of Maine, according to Wagner.

Participating in the drive were the Newman Center at the University of Maine, the Church of Universal Fellowship in Orono, the United Methodist Church of Orono and the St. James Episcopal Church of Old Town.

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