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NP group to help with rebuilding efforts in Haiti


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Gifts from the heart: Cross of Grace Lutheran Church Pastor Mark Havel shows church members Addison and Alyssa Crawford some of the items they'll be taking to Haiti on the mission trip. A group will be leaving Sunday to help residents in a remote village rebuild after a 2010 earthquake. (Kristy Deer / Daily Reporter)
Gifts from the heart: Cross of Grace Lutheran Church Pastor Mark Havel shows church members Addison and Alyssa Crawford some of the items they'll be taking to Haiti on the mission trip. A group will be leaving Sunday to help residents in a remote village rebuild after a 2010 earthquake. (Kristy Deer / Daily Reporter)


NEW PALESTINE — While many people will be getting ready to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, a group from Cross of Grace Lutheran Church in New Palestine will be en route to make a  super difference.

They’re heading to an orphanage in Haiti just about the time most people will be getting ready for the big game.

At 4 p.m. Pastor Mark Havel and a handful of church members will board a plane with each carrying a 50-pound bag full of donations for children living in a remote village in Fondwa, Haiti, a town still trying to recover from the catastrophic 2010 earthquake.

The New Palestine group is making the weeklong journey with four members of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis.

Havel and some of the men going on the mission met Sunday at the New Palestine church to pack gift bags to give to the needy children.

The church became affiliated with the village in Fondwa in 2009 and had planned a trip there just two weeks after the massive earthquake a few years ago.

“That trip got canceled, and we didn’t get to reschedule it until 2011,” Havel said.

Since that time, the church has donated 10 percent of its new building fund to the village, Havel said. They’ve already sent $25,000 to help residents rebuild and have another $32,000 ready to donate.

“That will help them be able to finish construction on the school there,” Havel said.

Cross of Grace member Andy Crawford makes his living as a construction worker and is part of the trip. He anticipates using his skills as a carpenter to make a real difference in the lives there.

“I’ve never been there before, but I think it’s going to be a real rewarding experience,” Crawford said. “My skills will help provide for whatever they need.”

As he watched his two young daughters pack bags for the orphans, he said he mostly wants to help the children in need.

His two children separated the donations of gum, chalk, pens, pencils and small toys while the older men filled the gift bags.  

“This stuff is just fun stuff for the kids in the orphanage,” Havel said.

“We also have clothes and other things, but this is the first trip we’ve made since Christmas, so they get some fun things too.”

The mission group will help villagers with everything from cleaning up to starting construction on a home made of concrete blocks.

“By Haitian standards, it will be a pretty nice home,” church member Kent Kuffner said.

“It’s going to be an interesting trip because it will be so different from the way we live our lives here.”

Kuffner said he can only imagine the need and the level of poverty people living in Haiti face every day.

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