By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer
Portales peanut butter is more powerful than you may think. The creamy and crunchy stuff not only is a tasty treat for your family — it may also be able to save lives in a third-world country plagued by starvation and poverty.
This Valentine’s Day, Altrusa International of Portales is starting a program called Project: Heart aimed at sending food, baby formula and medicine to Haiti — a country afflicted with mass poverty and starvation.
“(Haiti) is our closest third-world country,” Beverly Bennett, president of the Portales Altrusa club said. “They’re our neighbors, they’re right next door.”
In a development that almost makes this effort tailor-made for Portales, officials think peanut butter is the best option to donate to Haiti’s starving masses because of it’s shelf life and nutritional qualities.
“Well, we’re perfect,” Bennett said, “because we’ve got plenty of peanut butter.”
“Peanut butter is high in protein,” Altrusa member Jo Laney said. “And you can close it up and it lasts a long time.”
Starting this month, the members of Altrusa plan on distributing donation boxes throughout town for people to donate food, baby formula and medicine.
“We want everybody to know when they see our boxes why they’re there and what we’re doing,” Bennett said.
The group plans to collect the items over the next several months and ship them to Kentucky, where they will be sent to Haiti. Laney wrote the grant proposal and received about $1,000 for shipping costs. They’re hoping they can get the first shipment out in April.
“Altrusa’s focus this year is how we can help and impact the world community and how our little corner of the community can help other communities in the world, and we chose Haiti,” Laney said.
Laney also said the grant money collected will probably allow the club to ship four times throughout the year.
“If we can get the community as well as Altrusa members to bring the peanut butter and supplies, then the grant will ship it,” Laney said.
Altrusa member Lori Bohm went to Haiti a few years ago, and said the need is great.
“The poverty is unbelievable. It’s one of the poorest countries in the world,” Bohm said.
According to Laney’s research, there is one doctor in Haiti for every 10,000 people and the average salary is about $400 per year.
The group is also asking other community service organizations to join their effort.
“We want the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, any organization, any church, banks and businesses that wants to help us — we want to collect as much as we can to ship it out,” Bennett said.”
“We really would like community input and help with this,” Laney said.