OC's caring arms reaching around Planet Earth

By TIM SINIARD
Posted 2/14/20

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OC's caring arms reaching around Planet Earth

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Tucked away inside a massive warehouse in North Cleveland are thousands of items that are regularly shipped via convoys of ships and barges throughout the world.

But the medical supplies, bottled water, food and clothing and other items aren’t for sale; they’re donated and distributed by Operation Compassion to provide disaster relief to people in areas of the world struck by disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes.

During the Rotary Club of Cleveland’s weekly luncheon held Tuesday at the Museum Center, Operation Compassion’s Vice President of Logistics and Operations Lisa Boen said the organization works with grassroots organizations all around the globe to distribute the supplies. 

“We have a strong and deliberate focus on international disaster relief,” Boen said.

They also provide relief to the poverty stricken by helping to fight hunger.

According to Operation Compassion’s website, since 1994, the relief organization "has helped to meet the needs of the poor in over 60 countries.

The organization has been headquartered in Cleveland for 18 years and operates a 120,000-square-foot warehouse located on Stuart Road, as well as other cities.

The organization was established in association with the Cleveland-based Church of God International Offices. Although it is now an independent organization, the church remains supportive of the relief organization’s efforts.

Unlike relief aid distributed by governments, which sometimes does not make it out of warehouses, Operation Compassion has a network of volunteers standing at the ready to get to work to distribute the vital supplies.

“Our product doesn’t go in government warehouses waiting for someone to come and pass it out,” she said.

Instead, Operation Compassion works with a trusted network of volunteers who ensure the relief supplies get to where they are desperately needed.

“They can get the product to where it needs to go,” she said. “They already have plans in place.”

After Hurricane Dorian destroyed areas in the Bahamas last year, Boen said the organization was able to send up to 60 containers of relief goods. 

“We used contacts from people that were on the ground when our supplies arrived in the Bahamas and Puerto Rico,” Boen said. “We had drivers with trucks there who were waiting for the containers.”

Boen said the organization rigorously vets new partners.

“When a new partner comes in, we make sure what's going to happen to the product and that it’s not going to end up in the wrong hands,” she said.

In addition to disaster relief, the organization also feeds the hungry.

“We do an average of 12 million meals for malnourished children around the world,” Boen told the Rotarians. “And this meal consists of rice and soy, but it also contains 26 vitamins and minerals.

Boen said spices from the local area are added to the food to give it a regional flavor.

“The food helps bring a child back from the brink of malnourishment,” she said.

Those wanting to make donations to the organization may send a check or money order by mail to: Operation Compassion 114 Stuart Road N.E., Cleveland TN 37312.

Donations may also be made by visiting the following link:  https://www.givedirect.org/donate/?cid=12901.

 

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