Donations to Mennonite Disaster Service help volunteers provide support across the country


LANCASTER, Pa (WHTM) – This fall, Mennonite Disaster Service will have 16 projects across the country where volunteers are helping to restore what Mother Nature tore apart.

Kevin King, the executive director of MDS, keeps a map in his office where volunteers are stationed.

“There were over 5,000 volunteers that served a week or more last year,” King said.

Manheim Township-based MDS helps people recover from disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, winds, flooding, and wildfires.

On Tuesday, ABC27 partnered with MDS for a telethon to help raise money for the organization. King said most of the money they need supports volunteers who provide labor.

Phil Hostetter, who helped to answer phones on Tuesday, has been one of those volunteers providing labor for MDS.

In August, Hostetter was in Puerto Rico, helping to rebuild parts of the island that Hurricane Maria devastated.

“What got me was thinking was two years later, looking out over some of the valleys and seeing blue tarps that are there,” Hostetter said.

MDS has been in Puerto Rico since 2017, and Hostetter has been there twice in that time. He said in his most recent trip, he was part of a team helping to rebuild part of a children’s center connected to a church.

“That place becomes not just a place for the church but a place for the whole community to be there,” Hostetter said.

MDS donations helped to restore almost 700 houses in the United States in 2018.

“Every house you touch, every building you touch, you’re moving it along in the process,” Hostetter said.

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