Helping in Haiti

Mr. Joel Knudsen (“Mr. K” to those who know him) is our guest blogger for the week. He’s a music instructor here at Butler and has been for many years. He teaches piano and music theory and also is the pianist for the Butler Headliners. He volunteered last weekend to help with Haiti relief and he shares his story with us now and lets us know how we can be involved, right here in the Wichita area.

Written by Joel Knudsen

Last weekend my wife and I took our 4 and 7 year old grandkids with us to the Civic Center in El Dorado to try and do something concrete to help in the aftermath of Haiti’s 7.0 earthquake. A group called “Numana” organized this event. They had a similar event Dec. 29 and 30 just two weeks before the Haiti quake.

Numana had over 1,400 volunteers for the Dec. event and they packaged 285,000 meals to send to starving people across the globe. They often partner with the Salvation Army to provide the food component for the many needs of people living in poverty. The timing of the first event turned out to be fortuitous, because it was a practice run before the Haiti earthquake hit.

Last weekend Numana had over 5,000 volunteers, and exceeded their goal of 570,000 meals by about 15 percent to produce 654,870 meals. These meals were packaged on Friday and Saturday, shipped out on Sunday, and parachuted to the Haitians on Tuesday What an amazing turnaround time. Haiti’s people had gone nearly a week without food of any kind, and even with relief on its way people who weren’t killed during the earthquake (estimates range as high as 200,000) are dying from lack of food, water and lack of medical care.

When we showed up on Saturday we waited in line to be put in a group of about 10 people. You can work multiple shifts, but a shift is one hour long. After your shift, you leave so others can take a turn. If you want to stay and help you just get back in line. To get started they lead your team to a long table where one person measures rice into a plastic bag. The next person measures soy protein into the bag, and the next person measures dried vegetables and vitamins into the bag. The bags are then sealed with an automatic sealer, checked to make sure they don’t have air in them, patted flat and loaded into boxes for delivery.

People around the room yelled in encouragement as boxes were loaded, and a gong was sounded for every 1,000 meals that were packaged, loaded and ready to ship.

The atmosphere was exciting, energetic and supportive, and the feeling of accomplishment was a great way to feel like we had done some good for people in a time of great need.

My wife Lori and I also wanted our grandchildren to learn in a very real way how they can make a difference when people are in need. Naturally they had a good time and were rewarded with a lot of praise, and in cheap but tangible ways after the fact, come on, we are grandparents.

Writing a check is a great way to help, particularly if you can’t physically be present because of time conflicts, health or other reasons, and you happen to be blessed with money. On the other hand, there are times when you just can’t give money because you don’t have it. My wife was off work for three months following bypass surgery, so writing a check was not a good option for us. Rather than feeling helpless, this was a great opportunity to feel like we were helping. Of course, an hour shift is literally a drop-in-the-bucket, but it is a start. In addition, we had a great time, taught our grandkids a great life lesson, and lifted our own spirits in the process.

Here’s the best news yet: This Sat. and Sun. at the Kansas Coliseum (Jan. 23, 24) Numana has another opportunity for all of us to participate in a “Million Meal” event. Saturday’s hours are 8 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sundays hours are 1 p.m.-7 p.m. wouldn’t it be awesome if they once again exceeded their goal by 15 percent.

If you would like to feel a sense of satisfaction, and help the Haitian people in their time of greatest need, grab your friends, family, children, grandchildren, neighbors or people you would just like to get to know, and join us at the Coliseum sometime this weekend.

Haiti’s problems are just beginning, and it will take years to clean up and rebuild. For right now though, we can help make sure that they have food, water, clothes, shelter and adequate medical care. Basic survival care is something we all can participate in.

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One thought on “Helping in Haiti

  1. Thanks for sharing with us, Mr. K!

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