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Manatee still rallying for victims

MANATEE — Prayer feeds the soul and can calm the mind during times of trouble.

Knowing that, Let Us Take a Stand for God Ministry, an organization that connects area Haitian churches and groups, will hold a Day of Cry Out for Haiti and memorial service from 8 a.m.-noon, Saturday at Church of the Cross, 5051 26th St. W., to bring the community together to pray for those suffering in earthquake-stricken Haiti.

“We usually hold the prayer service every March,” said Mesack Dieudonne, president of the LTSG Ministry. “But we decided we didn’t want to wait until then considering the situation.”

The memorial service will be for those in the local Haitian community who have lost family members, as well as Americans serving the people and United Nations personnel, who also died in the earthquake.

“This will help those who are not able to get back to Haiti to bury their dead,” Dieudonne said.

“We invite the whole community to come and join us to pray for Haiti,” he said.

Several community leaders have been invited to speak during the service, Dieudonne said.

For more information call Dieudonne at (941) 301-6674 or (813) 516-5689.

The local Haitian community also is organizing a meeting for doctors and nurses who would like to volunteer their services in Haiti during the crisis.

There will be a meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the First Biblical Baptist Church of Palmetto, 802 23rd St. E., Palmetto.

The Rev. Guy Francois, pastor of the mostly Haitian congregation, said the two missionary centers his church operates in Haiti have been sheltering many refugees from the devastating earthquake that struck the island nation Jan. 12.

With members of his church leading the mission, Francois said they would be able to help direct the aid doctors and nurses could provide to those who need it the most.

“We’re familiar with the people and the area,” he said. “We know where to go.”

For more information, call the pastor at (941) 465-7450, or the Rev. Julio Volcy, pastor of Haitian Ministry Theophile, at (941) 752-3441.

Dr. James Chatham, who spent Christmas week working in clinics in Haiti, said the church meeting was a good idea because many in the medical community are willing to help.

“There’s a huge need there,” Dr. Chatham said, “and it just got bigger.”

The doctor said he was there before the quake hit and he saw rampant poverty in the country.

“But it sure doesn’t compare to what it’s probably like now,” Dr. Chatham said.

The Christmas trip was Dr. Chatham’s second mission to Haiti.

He went with a group from his former church in Keystone Heights, Community Christian Church, to provide medical care to the 120 children at New Life Children Center, organized through a World Harvest program.

The doctor, who is with the Manatee Diagnostic Center, said he heard all the children were safe, but one wall fell down and the roof collapsed.

The report said looters with machetes have harassed the children and staff, Dr. Chatham said.

A team of local doctors, led by Dr. Joseph Pecoraro, arrived in the Dominican Republic on Tuesday and was heading toward Haiti to help.

Dr. Pecoraro, a Bradenton general surgeon and co-founder of Hearts Afire, a medical missionary organization, said before he left he expected to do mostly amputations, treat traumatized wounds and deal with multiple fractures.

Joining the doctor are anesthesiologists Trey Bernard, Tom Nutter and orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Sugar, all from Sarasota. They are carrying supplies donated by local hospitals, knowing it will only make a small dent.

In an update from a missionary’s phone in Santo Domingo, Dr. Pecoraro related the difficulties in getting to the makeshift hospital they plan to help.

He said the van they were using to travel to the Haiti border lost a wheel, so the doctors had to find one to rent.

Dr. Pecoraro said they are still heading toward Haiti, but may be needed long before they reach the hospital.

“The need is so great all the way along the Dominican border, we may or may not be able to get into Haiti,” he said in a voice mail. “They’re transporting patients out to the borders — word is that the hospitals are full.”

The disaster in Haiti has many in Manatee County doing what they can to help.

The fourth graders at Gene Witt Elementary School will hold a Hula-Hoops for Haiti mini-marathon today to raise money for the Red Cross, according to Kim Roberson-Hoy, one of the fourth grade teachers.

“More than 100 students will participate,” Roberson-Hoy said.

The idea for the fund raiser came from a discussion the students were having about the earthquake in Haiti and since they recently had two other events for charity, a jump rope marathon and a walk-a-thon, they thought they could raise money for Haiti, she said.

“They felt sadden when they see the images on the news,” Roberson-Hoy said, “and they wanted to help out.”

The children will work in teams of four or five, taking turns at swinging the plastic tubular Hula Hoops around their hips for 30 minutes.

Roberson-Hoy said five fourth-grade teachers at Witt will use the fund-raiser event as part of their teaching plan.

Part of the strategic objective of the Manatee County school district is global outreach, she said, and, “This is a good way for them to feel they did something important.”