Dear Valerie: "I'm the Relief Society activity leader in our ward, and we're supposed to be having an activity next month doing 72 hour kits. The thing is...I'm overwhelmed! I don't have any idea how to pull this off. Everyone has different needs, tastes in foods, etc. Some already have supplies, others don't. Do you have a suggestion on how to go about organizing, determining needs, purchasing (so one person doesn't have to spend a ton of money and then get reimbursed)? Our president also wants the sisters to assemble a few extra that night to donate to the women's shelter. Is it reasonable for me to organize the purchase of backpacks, food, tools, etc. or should we focus on a partial 72 hour kit? I'm dying here! :) No clue how to make this work and hoping for some suggestions. Doing kits for your own family is challenging enough, but trying to do this for all the sisters at an activity night seems really hard. Any ideas and suggestions you can offer would be very appreciated. Thank you!"
Overwhelmed Relief Society Leader
Dear Reader: "First of all let me say I did this years ago in a ward, and it was a HUGE undertaking and was highly stressful for me. Second of all, It is better to teach a woman how to fish, than to fish for her. I don't think it is part of your calling to do the shopping for everyone. It takes months of planning to pull it off. You are right that every family is unique. Diets, finances and children's ages are unique. Some elderly women cannot carry a backpack. My items are in a carry-on suitcase with wheels. Love it! So here are my suggestions for you:
- Make your own kit.
- Have everything laid out on a table not in the kit.
- Pack your kit in front of them and discuss the items you are putting in it.
- Realize that everything cannot fit in a backpack. For instance a 3-day supply of water is 3 gallons, so put some bottles of water in your backpack and some on the table. Also a sleeping bag may not fit in the pack. Sure they could buy those super expensive compact ones, but most family budgets can't afford that. I keep our kits, sleeping bags and a few cases of bottled water in the front all emergency closet.
- Teach by showing and motivating. Be SUPER excited to tell them what you have learned. Be honest and tell them what you would have done differently.
- Print a list of items to go in a 72-Hour kit.
- Send around a list for them to sign up for a reminder call one month from today.
As far as a few kits for the women's shelter, if your ward can afford that (plan on $75 - $100 depending on what is put in the kits) that is up to your bishop. How about have the sisters donate toiletries, lotion, journal and pen, etc. or some items to add to a kit for the shelter."
Best wishes, Valerie