BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Harvey, Irma and Maria may have devastated Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, but Impact With Hope volunteers and donors are feeding, housing and clothing those impacted by the hurricanes. “So far, we’ve sent four semi-truckloads of food and cleaning supplies to Puerto Rico,” said Impact With Hope event coordinator Karen Smith. On Saturday, October 14, dozens of volunteers from Hope United Methodist Church, the Interact Club and the community gathered in the Whitehouse church’s gymnasium to pack 10,000 meals that will be sent to Puerto Rico. “Impact With Hope is trying to pack 1 million meals. We’ll have two more events in the next few weeks. We’re asking people to host events or donate money and we’ll find people to pack,” Smith said. Steve Winters, director of discipleship for Hope United Methodist, said a member family donated the $3,000 needed to pay for the ingredients and packaging for the highly nutritious and flavorful Latin rice. “This was on our members’ hearts to have a mission for kids and families, while at the same time helping the people of Puerto Rico,” Winters said. The Richardson family, including parents Jennifer and Michael and their children Madeline and Benjamin, donned gloves, hairnets and aprons to aid in scooping in the ingredients and sealing buckets shut. The meal, which includes soy protein, 21 minerals, rice and beans, can be made with boiling water and is healthy enough to provide an entire day’s nutrition, Smith said. About 44 percent of Puerto Rico still remains without drinking water, but water can be boiled for these simple meals. In addition to food, Impact With Hope has sent cleaning supplies, baby and personal care items, blankets and more to Puerto Rico, Dominica, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Martin and Antigua. Impact With Hope has provided 30 trucks and 300 tons of donated goods to areas of Florida and Houston. Smith recently returned from a 10-day trip to aid in Houston-area cleanup. While there, she saw the generosity of people throughout the United States. One man drives weekly from Dallas and prepares lunch for 100 volunteers. Vans donated 6,000 pairs of shoes. Under Armor replaced an entire gymnasium – everything from the flooring and building to the locker room and uniforms – in a Texas high school. “It’s amazing how generous people can be with their time and money,” she said. Impact With Hope continues to collect donations for these and other disasters. For information on donating or hosting a food-packing event, visit www.impactwithhope.org or call (419) 878-8548.
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