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‘Helping Hands for Haiti’ event approaches

It’s called the “Helping Hands for Haiti.” It’s a food-packing event – May 2, but there are some things you need to do beforehand if you would like to get involved.

“I had a great opportunity to go to Haiti right after the earthquake, a couple months after the earthquake, and I saw the devastation firsthand and saw the children living in poverty and it just touched my heart and I just felt like we’ve got to do something,” said organizer Greg Weitzel.

Weitzel is normally the director for Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation, but he also wears another hat, as the chairperson for the International Service Committee for the Rotary Club. Weitzel has been to Haiti twice a year since the big devastating earthquake. He has built more than 15 playgrounds in orphanages. He said when you see the type of poverty in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, you can’t help but want to do something about it, and it starts with something to eat.

“I said, ‘We’ve got to find a way to get some food down to these starving children,'” said Weitzel.

As it is right now, many of the children eat homemade cookies … made of dirt.

“It fills your stomach. When we haven’t eaten anything, this dirt cookie fills your stomach,” said one Haitian mother.

“But the kids need food to play. They need energy,” said Weitzel.

One day, Weitzel was back home in Idaho picking up dropped, wasted potatoes from a field.

“There we so many potatoes left over, I just couldn’t believe it,” said Weitzel.

That’s when he had the idea to pack rice meals with minerals and vitamins, 100,000 of them at 25 cents, loaded into a 40-foot container. That’s where teams of volunteers come in.

“A little bit can go a long way and I really believe that in this case. And I hope that we get more people to give. I hope that we exceed our goal. I hope that we can take a lot of food down there and really help a lot of poor, poor people,” said Weitzel.

The goal is $25,000 for the rice meals and some items from the Humanitarian Center in Idaho Falls. And who knows, maybe a few Idaho potato products too.

“We are so incredibly bless where we live, in America, and in Idaho!” said Weitzel.

Rotarians and volunteers will go to Haiti to distribute the food right to kids at orphanages. The deadline to register or donate is Friday, Apr. 17. The packing event is Saturday, May 2 at Skyline High School from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For questions, or to donate, email Greg Weitzel at or go to

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