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Church sending help to Haiti

Anyone who has lived in south Alabama in the wake of hurricane knows what it’s like to be without water or power for days on end; but, no matter how bad it’s gotten here, it’s nothing compared to what the residents of Haiti currently face.

However, local Methodist churches are beginning a project they hope will help alleviate some of the physical discomfort for Haitian residents.

“We’re calling it ‘To Haiti With Love’ going around the theme of Valentine’s Day,” said the Rev. Jimmy Allen of Opp First United Methodist Church. “We will be collecting and constructing health kits, which have personal hygiene items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes and soap, up to Feb. 14.

“These people have suffered such devastation,” he said. “We don’t think about those kind of conveniences like being able to brush your teeth or wash your hands, until we no longer have them.”

Allen said the project is the brainchild of the church’s women’s club and has quickly grown.

“The great thing about this project is that – while everyone wants to do what they can to help the people of Haiti – you’re not limited to this group or that group,” he said. “This project reaches across all lines, even denominational lines. You don’t have to be a Methodist to do.

“This is one small way can help the people of Haiti right now,” he said.

The group’s goal is to construct 5,000 kits containing the following:

1 hand towel (15″ x 25″ up to 17″ x 27″ and no kitchen towels)

1 washcloth

1 comb (large and sturdy, not pocket-sized)

1 nail file or fingernail clippers (no emery boards or toenail clippers)

1 bath-size bar of soap (3 ounces and up)

1 toothbrush (single brushes only in original wrapper. No child-size brushes.)

6 adhesive plastic strip sterile bandages

$1 to purchase toothpaste

$1 for shipping costs

Allen said the national FUMC Committee on Relief purchases toothpaste in bulk to be added at shipping to ensure that the product does not expire before they are sent.

Items should be packaged in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag.

“When you look at it, you can help a person for under $12,” he said. “So (local residents) can help by either donating cash, which would allow us to purchase items in bulk to construct the kits, or by donating a completed kit. The only thing that we ask is that if it specifically designates a quantity, like a 3 ounce bar of soap, make sure you follow that guideline.

“Kits are limited to exactly what’s on the list, too,” he said.

Allen said Opp FUMC has been designated as a district drop-off point, and the kits will be stored at the church up until Feb. 14. They will then be taken to Baldwin, La., one of two collection points in the U.S.

“We would love to have everyone in Covington County participate,” he said.

Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 126, Opp, AL 36467.

For more information, call 334-493-9731 or by email at jimmy@oppfumc.org.

Andalusia’s First Methodist Church is also participating in the Haiti relief effort and will announce later in the week what specific project they will undertake, the Rev. Tim Trent said.

To date, the church has collected more than $1,000 in donations for the relief effort.