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Volunteers for the Tigard-based nonprofit packed the kits for victims of the Kentucky tornadoes.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Bruce Schwindt, a retiree from Portland, said he spends his time volunteering for Medical Teams International because he feels they undertake worthwhile missions. He also enjoys the camaraderie with the other volunteers. Like Christmas elves packing up for Santa, a group of seven volunteers busied themselves by placing personal hygiene items into kits bound for tornado-ravaged parts of Kentucky Wednesday, Dec. 29.

Those volunteers were all part of an effort by the Tigard-headquartered Medical Teams International's effort to provide a few of the essentials for the Western Kentucky tornado victims after that storm ripped through that state earlier this month.

"We're doing this in partnership with Goodwill Industries of the Columbia-Willamette and we're sending 1,500 kits through the Compassion Force Program we have here at Medical Teams," said Therese Briede, supply chain and volunteer management specialist for Medical Teams International. "We did them last year for all the (Oregon) fires."

Inside each kit put together by the faith-based, humanitarian aid agency were such items as soap, toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, a washcloth, a comb, hand sanitizer and bandages.PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Gary Filsinger of Oregon City places a box filled with hygiene items on a pallet in Medical Teams Internationals Tigard warehouse Wednesday.

Tracy Dudek, corporate and foundation relations specialist for Medical Teams International, said Oregon Goodwill Industries gave Medical Teams funding to purchase the items, helping to support their counterparts in Kentucky.

Briede said the volunteers enjoy doing what they are doing because they know where the kits are going and that they will be put to good us. For that reason, she never has trouble getting additional people to come to the organization's expansive warehouse to put together the kits. PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Volunteers put together hygiene kits bound for Kentucky tornado victims at Medical Teams Internationals Tigard headquarters.

"We have volunteers here every day of the week and they pack medical products for international and local (use)," said Briede. "But usually when something like this comes up, we'll pause what we're doing and we'll start building kits."

One of the volunteers packing items Wednesday was Bruce Schwindt, a retiree from Portland who has been volunteering for about 12 years.PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - A close up photo shows the various hygiene items headed for tornado victims in Kentucky.

"I think it's a very worthwhile mission and I think it's well run," said Bruce Schwindt. "They have a great staff. Of course, I like interacting with the rest of the volunteers. That's a big part of it."

Gary Filsinger, of Oregon City, said he and his wife Carolyn have been volunteering with Medical Teams International for the last eight years.

"These are the nicest people you ever will meet," he said. "We're just doing something that's a great idea. We love helping people around the world that are less fortunate."PMG PHOTO: RAY PITZ - Volunteers help put together hygiene kits at Medical Teams International.

Briede said the hygiene kits contain items in containers that should last one person a month.

"On our website there is a spot for people to make them and we have had church groups that make them. We've had school groups that make them and there is always a constant need," Briede said.

Information for those homemade kits is available at medicalteams.org/donation/build-a-kit/

After you're finished, bring or mail the kit(s) to Medical Teams International, 14150 S.W. Milton Court, Tigard, 97224.


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