COLUMBIA - The non-profit organization "A Call to Serve International" packed and loaded a huge gift Monday for Columbia's sister city Kutaisi in the country of Georgia. The main gift consisted of lozenges and gum that will be distributed for a stop-smoking program for the citizens, with a special emphasis toward women. The program will run for 12-16 weeks, weaning smokers from nicotine. Also included in this shipment were hygiene products that will reach 44,000 refugees.
Smoking is a large problem in Georgia as it was ranked the fifth highest country in the world in 2008 for male smokers between the ages of 13 to15-year olds.Smoking has also increased the rate of low birthweight babies.
In the Columbia warehouse, two dedicated workers, Rodney Moore and Rick Reeves, started filling a forty ton container trailer at 7 a.m. Monday, a job that would take a good portion of the afternoon. The pair had to hand pack every space in the container.
After the container is packed and leaves the warehouse, it has a long journey before arriving at its destination point. The truck will leave Columbia and change over to rail travel in St. Louis. From St. Louis, the container will be loaded on a boat at Charleston, South Carolina and shipped across the ocean to Pireaus, Greece. From there the container will be loaded onto a smaller boat and shipped to Tbilisi, Georgia where it will finally reach Kutaisi. Once delivered, workers will have to unpack the container by hand an as the daylight will allow.
The container should arrive in Kutaisi by mid-May and be distributed to 150,000 citizens who are currently on a waiting list.
Funding for the gift came from donations from private companies and a grant from the U.S. State Department for the container, which cost $6,000.