The FoodForHaitiNow Drive
March 13, 2010 Sixteen BonaResponds volunteers got together in the back room of the Park and Shop grocery store on Front Street in Olean to pack over 10 pallets full of supplies for the survivors of the January 12 earthquake in Haiti.
The day was the result of over a month of collecting supplies and even making crutches.
"It was a tremendous success" said FoodForHaitiNow (and BonaResponds) leader Jim Mahar. "We had planned on four or five pallets" but the tremendous generosity of the area really shone through. When it was all said and done we had ten pallets plus about four other boxes that will be shipped separately.
The day's shipment totaled 281 pairs of crutches, 109 walkers, 14 tents, 7 sleeping pads, 4 knee braces, and 7 boxes of Medical Supplies. These were collected by BonaResponds, Christian Youth Corp, Villa Maria, Cuba-Rushford Elementary, Ellicotville Boces, Daeman College, JustRespond, and the Cornerstone Church.
"We have all come together to make a positive impact" said Christian Youth Corps leader Pete Andrews who also stressed that the group will still be collecting crutches. "We will have another shipment coming up near the end of the month. We can take crutches, wheelchairs, and tents. That is another item they really need."
FoodforHaitiNow.org is a group of organizations led by BonaResponds that have come together to help in the aftermath of the devastating January earthquake. "It started as BonaResponds and VillaVolunteers (a volunteer group from Villa Maria in Buffalo), but it is open to
everyone. The situation there is much worse than any one group can solve. They need all the help they can get. We want to eventually feed over over 200,000 people, but in the meantime, we will be doing much to help Haiti. Today's shipments are just another step. We did the bootdrive earlier, had a car wash, some fund raisers in Buffalo, and many other things already. But we are just getting started!" explained Emily Deragon a BonaResponds student leader.
This is the first of many events that the group has planned to assist the recovery in Haiti. In two weeks they will be hosting a concert by Miriam Jones an English singer on a US tour. She is playing to raise money to help in Haiti at at St. Bonaventure. Also there will be a 5k in Buffalo's Delaware Park that is being organized by Carrie Jackling a former BonaResponds student leader.
"There will likely be something happening every weekend from now through the end of the semester. We hope to have another car wash, a sleep out, bracelet sales, t-shirt sales, and other things" said Phil Penepent, another BonaResponds student leader who helped in Haiti on a non Bonaventure approved trip over spring break. "Having been to Haiti over spring break with HODR (Hands On Disaster Response), I have seen first hand the need there and anything we can do to help is extremely worthwhile."
Mahar concluded: "Our approach on every BonaResponds event is that everyone has something to contribute. Today was the perfect example of this. Abbott Welding let us use their truck, the Olean Wholesale gave us plastic shrink wrap, Park and Shop allowed us to use their backroom and shipping containers, and of course all of the many people who collected and donated. Everyone was important in this. Without any of them and this does not get done. I can not thank everyone enough. Haiti can not thank them all enough."