FEMAP (Friends Emergency Material Assistance Program) grew out of a similar, large-scale program which was run for many years by the American Friends Service Committee. The AFSC program collected clothing and other things from Quaker meetings all across the country, and shipped them to places where they were needed here in the U.S. and abroad.
The AFSC program was phased out in the early 2000s because of the rising cost of shipping. Peggy Baxter, who had been in charge of the program in this area, had just retired and she came up with the idea of a smaller-scale program to be run by local Quaker meetings.
FEMAP started in 2011 with $5,000 in seed money from the American Friends Service Committee. The organizers were Peggy Baxter and Wallace Sills (Jamestown Friends), Anna Lee Sprye (High Point Friends), Judy Reece (Friendship Friends) and Becké Jones (Greensboro First Friends).
The Springfield Memorial Association agreed to let FEMAP use the Allen Jay House rent-free. Following the Civil War, Allen and Martha Jay lived in the house, which was the local headquarters of the Baltimore Association. Teachers, school supplies and other materials were delivered there from all over the U.S., Great Britain and Ireland. So, having FEMAP here feels like a natural and very familiar ministry.
The new group quickly obtained a 501(c)3 tax exemption certificate from the Internal Revenue Service and settled in to work. The FEMAP committee meets four times a year for a meal, reports and to hear speakers on topics related to the ministry.
The main activity of FEMAP is putting together basic hygiene kits for farm workers, men’s and women’s shelters, and infants as well as kits of school supplies. The kits are assembled on the long work table from well-organized shelves full of supplies. A typical farm worker kit contains a pair of work gloves, a towel, a wash cloth, a bar of soap, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant, a comb and razors. FEMAP also puts together writing kits to help prisoners send letters.
The kits are distributed through organizations which are directly in touch with people in need. The majority of the kits are placed here in North Carolina, though sometimes for a hurricane or large natural disaster kits are sent out-of-state.
Usually 5-10 volunteers from various meetings are there every Wednesday from 10:00 to 2:00 to work on the kits. When they are in full swing, you can hear the volunteers laughing and talking all the way out at the road. Participation varies, but FEMAP currently has Friends participating from Springfield, Archdale, Greensboro First Friends, New Garden, Jamestown, Rocky River, High Point, Forsyth, Mt. Airy, Deep River, Bethel, Hopewell, Kernersville, Science Hill, New Hope, South Plainfield, Winston-Salem, Cedar Square, Centre, Concord, Westfield and Marlboro.
The group raises funds for the purchase of kit materials by selling beautiful hand-made quilts and other items which are made at home. FEMAP also receives contributions from the North Carolina Fellowship of Friends, Friends Church of North Carolina and North Carolina United Society of Friends Women, as well as from many independent Friends meetings and individuals.