Fundraisers come and go, bake sales are a thing of the past and just plain donations hardly exist. However, that is not what happened at UMHB. Crusaders, when called upon, have faithfully given and helped those in need.
This was exactly the case when Haiti was devastated by an earthquake at the beginning of the year. Students walked around campus without shoes, generously donated money and listened to various bands at a benefit concert.
Burt Hall residents also pulled together by giving $10 for backpacks and bought school supplies for the Haitian children.
Three UMHB students along with alumni Jeff and Jen Sutton had the opportunity to deliver the supplies donated to the Spirit of Truth boys’ orphanage this past summer.
Jen Sutton, director of Children’s Ministries at Hope for the Hungry, a local ministry, has been to Haiti five times since the natural disaster occurred in January.
She has seen the progress first hand of 30 homes being built by local Haitian church members and the physical and spiritual growth of the 32 boys in the home.
“The church comes together and volunteers to build these houses. Several of the volunteers live in tents right now. They wake up and go build houses and come home to a tent,” Sutton said. “They are not promised a house at all; they do this because they love the Lord and want to serve.”
During the week in Guibert, the group worked from sunup to sundown alongside the locals to help roof six houses and reach out to the community.
Senior finance major Chris Whitehead thinks the Haitians blessed him and taught him more than he was able to offer them.
“The whole point of the trip was to roof houses and build relationships .… It was cool the way we built (the houses) because the roof was slightly tilted, so that when it rains, the water can run off the top of the roof and be collected for cooking or cleaning,” he said.
Even though the main focus was to build homes, the students enjoyed watching the boys receive their gifts that UMHB students helped to fund.
Senior business marketing major Cortney Donnahoo said that seeing the kids impacted her the most. While Sutton called out the names of the boys in the orphanage one by one to get their personalized backpack and shoes, Donnahoo held a 3 ½-year-old boy, Mackenlay.
“He got really scared, but I helped him open it up. He pulled the shoes out and started holding them up to his feet as if he wanted me to put them on,” she said. “It was cool to see how he reacted.”
Senior international business major Tommy Wilson also went on the trip as a UMHB representative.
Along with the others, he witnessed the impact that the hard work and generosity of the students had on the people of Haiti.
“What the student body did made a difference, even though they weren’t able to see it,” Wilson said.
For Whitehead, Donnahoo and Wilson, the trip was a chance to connect and minister to the Haitians first hand, but they could not have had a successful trip if it were not for the hard work and diligence of the university.
Sutton said “Thank you to UMHB for everything they’ve done and for the money that they’ve raised .… You are not just giving to an organization, but to actual children that we know and that UMHB students have the opportunity to actually meet.”