Okla. disaster relief gets rare recycling unit

by Emily Howsden/The Baptist Messenger, posted Wednesday, March 01, 2017 (24 days ago)

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) -- Volunteers for Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief are taking steps to ensure they are good stewards of what the Lord has given them.

This cardboard recycling unit designed by Oklahoma Baptist Dave Norwood will be used during the state's Disaster Relief deployments to help reduce the ministry's environmental footprint.
Photo by Sam Porter
Following historic floods in Louisiana last August, volunteers served 20,000 meals a day. And some volunteers decided to take action after they saw the amount of cardboard that wasn't being used or recycled.

Sam Porter, disaster relief (DR) director for Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, noted that many meals per day "requires approximately one 53-foot 18-wheeler full of food which is packaged with a mountain of cardboard packaging. They hated seeing all that cardboard just thrown away."

Plans were drawn, funds were raised, and DR volunteers now have a one-of-a-kind cardboard recycling unit. However, how the idea for the machine came into fruition is more complex.

In the midst of serving those affected by natural disasters, Oklahoma DR had neither the time nor resources to focus on developing the unit. This is when Porter mentioned to Dave Norwood of Southwood Baptist Church in of Tulsa, Okla., that if he could raise the money then the element could be added to the DR fleet.

Norwood, a retired electrician, designed a unit with a 10-kilowatt generator, 114-gallon propane tank and cardboard compactor all mounted on a 14-foot custom-made trailer.

In less than three months, the money was raised, and a manufacturer was ready to build the trailer, free of charge. The project was completed in December.

"The company that manufactures these machines said they had never seen a unit like this because what they see usually is stationary in the back of a store, and ours is mobile," Porter said. "It's a good statement from Southern Baptist ministry, to say, you know, we are concerned about people's lives, their possessions and their souls, but also we're concerned about the earth as well.

"God created Adam and Eve and placed every man with dominion over the earth, and it's our responsibility to care for what God has put us in charge of. And we hope it's really something that will catch on."

This unit will be managed by Southern Baptist DR volunteers who are members of the Baptist churches near Tulsa. The primary use of the recycling unit will be at sites of catastrophic disaster deployment where more than 20,000 meals are being prepared daily.

Emily Howsden is a staff writer for The Baptist Messenger, (www.baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, where this article first appeared.
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