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SALT LAKE CITY — Friday night, an 18-wheeler semitrailer left the United Methodist Committee on Relief warehouse for New York, hoping to give aid to those struck by Hurricane Sandy in a different way from others.
The UMCOR, the humanitarian branch of the Methodist Church, keeps their disaster response supplies in the warehouse on 1400 South and 700 West in Salt Lake City. Their biggest undertaking until now has been helping earthquake victims in Haiti. So when the call came to help Americans in New York, after Hurricane Sandy struck Monday, they were ready to go in no time.
"We've been prepared for a long time for an event like this," said Reverend Brian Diggs.
UMCOR spent Friday packing 5-gallon buckets full of supplies into a semitruck heading to the Bronx. Most of the items heading to the east coast were already in the facility, and the buckets include cleaning supplies, gloves, rope, sponges, and brushes. The thinking is, there are so many groups already bringing food and clothes out to the East Coast, and they'll need the supplies to clean up their cities.
The faster these supplies got out the door, the faster it will get to those who need them. And for people like Maika Tukuafu, that incentive is what drives them to work their hardest.
"I would like to be out there and personally hand out these buckets," Tukuafu said. "But I need to be here."
Tukuafu said this is what he has wanted to do ever since he heard about the group three years ago.
"I gave up a job that I've been with for 17 years, and it was a pay cut, to be able to work here," he said.
For him, helping those in need fulfilled something deep inside him no other job could touch.
"It don't really matter who we are and what background we're from," Tukuafu said. "We all come together and make a difference."
Diggs shares the same message.
"You know, at a time when America seems to be so divided on so many issues, especially politically, this is one time we can come together as Americans," Diggs said.