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Local organizations send help to Haiti

The recent death toll for those who perished in the recent earthquake in Haiti has now reached a staggering 212,000. Homelessness was a major concern for the residents of Haiti even before the earthquake struck. It is now estimated that close to two million people are now living in the rubble of the streets of Haiti, living in camps and makeshift shelters.
Several organizations in our area are helping with relief efforts for the Haitian people. Samaritan’s Purse, based in Boone, North Carolina, has rendered aid worldwide for the past 35 years, reaching out to the poor, the sick and the needy. They offer emergency help providing food, water and shelter for victims of war, famine and disasters.
Melissa Strickland is the information coordinator for the Incident Management Team for Samaritan’s Purse. According to Strickland, a team from Samaritan’s Purse was mobilized within an hour. They quickly arrived in Haiti, assessing the immediate needs for the Haitians after the devastation of the earthquake. Currently, there are 121 personnel from Samaritan’s Purse in Haiti. They have helped the injured and sick at Baptist Haiti Mission Hospital, assisting with the enormous number of those needing medical attention. A second team has set up their base near the airport. This group has distributed food, rolls of plastic that will provide temporary shelter, hygiene kits and blankets. “When these folks ran out of their house they didn’t take anything with them,” said Strickland. The team has also installed filtration systems that can provide up to 10,000 gallons of clean drinking water on a daily basis for the Haitians.
According to Strickland, the teams from Samaritan’s Purse are working 16 to 20 hours a day, operating on very little sleep. Volunteers have arrived in Haiti from all over the world that are affiliated with Samaritan’s Purse, coming from as far away as Canada, London, Africa and Latin America. “It’s truly been a global effort,” added Strickland. She believes that this endeavor will be a long-term effort and not a quick fix to the vast problems the Haitians are encountering. “We can’t undo the trauma, but perhaps we can make their physical conditions better,” said Strickland, “The level of physical need and emotional need is overwhelming.”
Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center is part of Signature Healthcare family. Every payday, employees have the option of making donations to the Signature Healthcare fund known as the Compassion Fund. This fund is set up to help employees and the communities in which they live and work. “There are a lot of employees in Florida who have relatives in Haiti,” said Doug Hornsby, administrator for Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center. Monies have also been collected by the employees at Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center and sent directly to Samaritan’s Purse. Employees are donating at work and their churches. According to Hornsby, Rebecca Humphrey, who is employed at the Mountain City Center, is planning on taking some time off from work so she and her mother can volunteer their time and talents in Haiti.
Facilities throughout the Signature Healthcare network have also been collecting donations of monies, personal items, isolation masks, linens and protein powders. Bake sales throughout the Signature Healthcare family have raised money that has been contributed to assist the people of Haiti. Monies raised will go to help rebuild the communities in Haiti that have been destroyed by the earthquake.
Johnson County schools have partnered with the Action Coalition in an effort to collect 1,200 pairs of shoes. The shoes will be sent to Samaritan’s Purse to be forwarded to Haiti. Shoes of all sizes are needed, and the community as a whole is asked to participate. Torainna Aschenback from the Action Coalition will display the shoes on “Kick Butts Day” on March 24th. This day has been set aside for those who smoke to pledge to quit, and also for those non-smokers to pledge that they will never begin smoking. The goal of 1,200 pairs of shoes is significant in that “twelve hundred people die a year in Tennessee from the use of tobacco,” said Aschenback. The Action Coalition also plans to have the students make 1,200 crosses to be displayed on Route 421.
Roan Creek Elementary has come up with a unique way to help the people of Haiti. Each Wednesday in February, students can pay $1 in order to wear a hat at school. Faculty members can also pay $1, again on Wednesdays, to dress casually. All of these proceeds from this effort will go to relief funds for Haitians. The teachers at Roan Creek will be performing their own version of “Teacher Idol” that has been rescheduled for February 19th and 20th at Heritage Hall. A portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to the funds for relief efforts for the people of Haiti.
Southern Baptist churches in Johnson County are participating in an endeavor known as “Buckets of Hope.” Jim Norman, pastor at Pleasant Grove Baptist church, and his congregation are collecting plastic five-gallon buckets that are full of food items. One bucket can help feed a family of six to eight people for an entire week. Each bucket will contain two five-pound bags of long-grain enriched rice, one 48-ounce plastic bottle of cooking oil, two two-pound bags of dry black or red beans, one five-pound bag of all purpose flower, one 20-ounce cylinder container of granulated white sugar, two one-pound boxes of spaghetti noodles, one two-pound plastic jar of smooth peanut butter and one white kitchen-size plastic bag that will be used to wrap the cooking oil. Specific instructions for packing can be obtained from participating churches. Norman will also take donations at the church. The deadline for this project is March 11th.
Various churches throughout Johnson County are also taking up offerings for the people of Haiti. According to Dwayne Dickson, pastor at First Christian Church, they have collected close to $2,500. The members of Victory Chapel Cowboy Church have also collected monies from their church members. Both of these churches will donate the funds collected to Samaritan’s Purse.
Those Haitians that survived the earthquake are living in deplorable and unimaginable conditions. If you are interested in donating to help the people of Haiti, contact your church or any one of the churches throughout the county. Donations can also be made directly to Samaritan’s Purse.