A decision by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada to relocate its central warehouse operations out of Plum Coulee and into Ontario is going to have a significant impact on local volunteers.

MCC Canada and MCC Manitoba have jointly operated distribution of relief supplies and volunteer activities out of the warehouse in Plum Coulee since 2004. MCC Canada uses the building as a central depot to collect and store materials donated to MCC from across western Canada to be shipped out for relief efforts around the world.

However, in an effort to reduce the number of Canadian shipping sites it operates the organization has decided to create a single warehouse operation in New Hamburg, Ontario. The change goes into effect on April 1.

“More efficient planning and distribution of humanitarian relief supplies means we'll be able to better serve our partners in places like Honduras, Lebanon, Zambia and Ukraine who request these basic essentials," says material resources coordinator Tom Wenger.

That decision has forced MCC Manitoba to close out its operations at the warehouse as well, according to Executive Director Darryl Loewen.

"It results in a facility that is just too much for MCC Manitoba to bear singularly on its own, so we've decided that we will close the warehouse as a volunteer activity centre at the end of June."

Loewen acknowledges the move will create a huge void for local volunteers who have used the warehouse as a gathering place and activity centre for making comforters and relief kits for the past 16 years.

"We're sad about that and I'm sure all those volunteers are too. What we at MCC Manitoba intend to do is look for ways to be useful to all of those volunteers in sustaining connections and working on how to receive those blankets and kits that they make and continue their direct input into MCC's international program."

According to Loewen, there are over two dozen volunteers who are active at the warehouse in Plum Coulee on a weekly basis.

"They are passionate supporters of MCC and love the fact that handmade goods, especially in the form of comforters are delivered into hands that need them. We want to sustain that in the region and while we are departing a facility we are not departing a volunteer program that we think is very valuable."

The MCC facility is scheduled to close on June 30.


Written by Dean Penner