Sunday, September 21, 2008

Brethren Service in Indiana - Part 3

Following the successful collection and distribution of food to Civilian Public Service Camps during World War 2, the Brethren in Indiana turned to producing food to ship overseas following the war.

A cannery was constructed at New Paris and was operated for several years processing foods grown mostly in Indiana for relief purposes. A number of carloads of canned corn and beans and other foods were shipped overseas in the period immediately following the war.

During the earlier days of the war period ... many members of the Church of the Brethren had been sending clothing for relief through the American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia. As trucks began their regular trips for the collection and distribution of food, members of local congregations wondered whether the trucks themselves could not also handle clothing for relief.

To provide work garments for the men in Civilian Public Service camps, arrangements were made with Mennonite sewing centers to purchase cut garments. As these came to Nappanee cut out ready to be sewn by women's groups, they were distributed to the groups, were made and returned to Nappanee, and then were forwarded to camps on order.

About this time the Brethren Service Commission felt that there was enough activity among the churches of the Brethren to justify handling their own relief clothing and projects.... Clothing was now sent to the center at Nappanee, and there the first sorting and baling of garments for overseas shipment was done. Volunteer labor came in to help with this preparation for shipping.

Again, it was not long before quarters were outgrown. In the search for more space, a three-story building, approximately 40 x 120 feet, was purchased in Nappanee. Another unique project which developed was a soap factory constructed of a railroad tank car cut into three sections and stood on end. This soap factory produced over 300 tons of soap from waste and purchased fats to be sent for relief.

Service projects from Heifer Project to food for CPS camps, canned foods and clothing and soap collected or produced in Nappanee for overseas relief - all Northern Indiana projects.

Source: History of the Church of the Brethren in Indiana, 1952