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Donating a jar of peanut butter is an easy way the people of Marion County could help the starving people in Haiti who are desperately trying to recover from a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck near Port-au-Prince Tuesday of last week.
Brother Bud Owen, pastor at Lebanon Christian Church, says this community could save thousands of lives with simple jars of peanut butter and he's leading an effort to make that happen.
"In the scripture, Jesus says, 'You will do even greater things than me.' He fed 5,000 with two fish and five loaves of bread," Bro. Bud said. "We are going to do better than that. We are going to do it with peanut butter."
The tragedy in Haiti hits very close to home for Brother Bud, whose parents, sister and brother-in-law are missionaries there. They are alive and well after the quake, but are desperately trying to help the people of this devastated country.
Brother Bud's parents, Larry and Diane Owen, have a mission, Waves of Mercy, in the northwest portion of Port-de-Paix. They did not experience any serious destruction when the quake hit. There are some cracks in the walls of buildings but nothing serious, Brother Bud said. His brother-in-law, Jose, was in Port-au-Prince when the quake hit and was staying at the Visa Lodge. He told his family that, while he was safe, buildings right outside his hotel crumbled to the ground when the quake hit.
"He said it was terrible," Brother Bud said. "He said when he came running out of the hotel everybody hit the ground because the impact was so strong. Everybody was knocked off their feet. He said it reminded him of the tragedy on Sept. 11. Utter chaos... people screaming... crying... a war zone."
According to the Red Cross, about 3 million people - one-third of Haiti's population - were affected by the quake. The quake ripped apart buildings and has left many people trapped in the rubble. Rescue workers continue to struggle to clear rubble and bodies from the streets. Haitian government officials said the death toll could exceed 100,000, but it's still too early to tell.
Thursday afternoon, Bro. Bud spoke to his father, who was preparing to travel to Port-au-Prince to rescue some of the children who had lost their parents during the earthquake. His plan was to bring 50 children back to his mission to feed and minister to them.
And while many lives have been lost due to the earthquake, there are lives that could be saved and Marion County can lend a helping hand. Brother Bud has challenged all local schools, industries, businesses, churches and community members to donate jars of peanut butter to send to Haiti. He hopes to fill a 24-foot Ryder truck with jars and jars of peanut butter.
"That truck of peanut butter could make more than 15,000 meals," he said. "A tablespoon of peanut butter is better than anything for these kids who haven't eaten in days."
Once the peanut butter is collected locally, it will take at least six weeks to get to Haiti. According to Brother Bud, Freddy Hilpp of Lebanon is allowing him to use his warehouse to store the donations and Terry Smith of Lebanon has offered to take the supplies to Miami.
"The Lord's hand is definitely upon us," Brother Bud said.
And, as the first wave of relief is assisting Haiti right now, the peanut butter from Marion County will get there when the people need it the most, Brother Bud said.
"The first big wave of help is coming, and the people there don't know how long it will last," he said. "We will be that second wave. We will be that hope when they start seeing planes leave... we haven't forgotten about them."
To make a donation or assist Brother Bud with this cause, contact him at (270) 692-2458. You may also drop your jars of peanut butter off at the Enterprise office on South Proctor Knott Avenue across from Lebanon City Hall or at Farmer's National Bank.
The deadline to collect and donate is Sunday, Jan. 31.
• Donate jars of peanut butter or dry beans and rice.
• The deadline to donate is Jan. 31.
• You may drop off your donations at Lebanon Christian Church, The Lebanon Enterprise office or Farmer's National Bank.
• Questions, call Brother Bud at (270) 692-2458.
• To find out more about Waves of Mercy, go to Mercysaves.org.