Light of Christ United Methodist Church in Ballantyne has an old school bus headed for Haiti, and they need help stocking it with select food items and other supplies.The church on Bryant Farms Road bought the retired bus for $4,000 a few weeks ago to send to Bayonnais, Haiti, a farming community on the small island country. The bus will be used to transport teachers to and from the school there, a part of Organization Force de la Christian Bayonnais, a nondenominational church, school, and medical clinic under the direction of Pastor Actionnel Fleurisma. A native Haitian, Fleurisma has ties to Charlotte. He lived with a family here and attended Central Piedmont Community College. Now, some churches here support him through Friends of OFCB (Organization of the Christian Force of Bayonnais.) Light of Christ member Tom Harmon, who has made several trips to Haiti, is heading the project at the church. He visited the country the first time about 12 years ago. He knows first-hand the need that is there.“Every time there is a calamity, Bayonnais is affected,” said Harmon. “It’s a farming community in the mountains and they depend on their crops. Last fall Hurricane Sandy wiped out all the crops and that’s why sending this food is so important.” The bus is badly needed as well because both of the organization’s buses, which had been purchased and donated in the past, are now beyond repair. Once the bus is full, Harmon and another church member will drive it to West Palm Beach, Fla., where it will then be shipped to Haiti. He’s made the trip to Florida with another donated bus and says it’s a straight shot, but slow going because the bus won’t go faster than 52 miles per hour. “We just get on the interstate, get in the right hand lane, and stay there until we get to West Palm Beach,” said Harmon. The two will then fly back to Charlotte. Light of Christ is paying the $4,125 shipping fee and other churches in the area, including Sardis Presbyterian, South Mecklenburg Presbyterian and others are chipping in to pay for it to get through customs. Light of Christ pastor Marianne Romanat says it’s an opportunity for the community to help meet a pressing need. “Americans have especially been aware of the needs of our friends in Haiti since the earthquake in January of 2010,” Romanat said. “But sometimes we are not as aware that natural disasters which regularly impact Haiti, such as Hurricane Sandy, create more crises of food security in that country. We are grateful for the community’s support for this effort.”
Friday, Jan. 18, 2013
Bus, supplies go to people in Haiti
Ballantyne church joins with others in south Charlotte to help out
Light of Christ United Methodist Church pastor Marianne Romanat and church member Tom Harmon sit in the recently purchased school bus the church hopes to fill with food and toiletries and ship to Haiti. Harmon and another church member will take turns driving the bus to West Palm Beach, Fla., where it will be loaded onto a ship for the last leg of its voyage. MELINDA JOHNSTON
Light of Christ United Methodist Church pastor Marianne Romanat, right, with church member Tom Harmon, who will drive the school bus to Florida. The congregation of Light of Christ United Methodist Church is asking for the community’s help in filling a recently purchased retired school bus. MELINDA JOHNSTON
Want to help? Light of Christ is collecting 50 pound bags of rice (no smaller packages, please), dried pinto or black beans, cooking oil, peanut butter, crackers, toothpaste and toothbrushes to pack on the bus. All donations should be delivered to the church, 9121 Bryant Farms Road, 28277, by Feb. 14. Containers to accept donations are located outside near the bus if the church office is closed. If you would prefer to make a financial donation and let church volunteers purchase food to send, make checks payable to Light of Christ United Methodist Church, mark “Haiti” on the memo line, and mail to the above address. For information www.locumc.org or www.ofcbministries.org or 980-355-0637.
Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Melinda? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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