When news of the earthquake in Haiti broke, some Blanco County residents began figuring out how we could help.
They couldn’t go do urban search-and-rescue or emergency medicine, and shipping food or water from the Hill Country would be too expensive. So they looked ahead to the next need: diseases that follow disasters in places like Haiti.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Nutrition, sanitation and medical care are poor in the best of times. After a disaster, disease runs rampant. One remedy is personal health supplies.
So this week, Blanco County volunteers are buying and packaging personal hygiene supplies into individual kits, to be sent to Haiti to help head off disease.
“It seems amazing to us, but a simple bar of soap or tube of toothpaste can mean the difference between life and death for a survivor,” said Pastor Sid Spiller of the First United Methodist Church in Johnson City. “People will die because they can’t clean even small wounds. As Christians, we couldn’t very well ignore such basic and urgent needs.”
The church has teamed with the Blanco County Disaster Response Group and other willing churches, clubs and companies to gather the supplies and assemble the kits. UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, is an international disaster relief agency and has promised to get the kits into the hands of Haitian survivors.
Dollar General and its employees were quick to offer a substantial discount on the needed supplies. Individuals and organizations delivered cash and checks to cover the expenses. Each kits costs about $12, and before they started putting them together the volunteers could see they’d be making up several hundred of them!
The assembly lines were set up in the church and volunteers came to Johnson City from around the county and beyond ...from Marble Falls, Center Point, Kerrville... pitching in to make up the kits. Some came by to drop off money or supplies, and stayed to work.
Thursday, the load will be taken to San Antonio where it will start its journey to Port-au-Prince.
“That won’t be the end of it, though,” Spiller promised. “Our neighbors have flooded us with more support than we ever expected. We’ll be back again next week for another assembly line, and keep it going as long as we have workers and supplies.”
To donate supplies or money, drop them off at the church office. To help pack, call the office at 868-7414 for assembly days and times.