Herr: Mission Haiti needs your T-shirts

by Kati Herr/Staff Writer

What can a Simpson student do to help the earthquake victims in Haiti? Now with old T-shirts students can make a world of difference and provide a place to sleep for Haitians who are homeless and starving. Mission Haiti, a group based out of Sioux Falls, SD, makes sleeping mats from strips of old T-shirts and delivers them to the homeless in Haiti. With the recent earthquake destroying millions of homes, taking thousands of lives and injuring thousands more, the need in Haiti is greater than ever. People can not afford food and medical supplies, much less a place to sleep. A mat provided by Mission Haiti is the only thing between a person’s body and the earth.Here at Simpson College, thousands of miles from the small, devastated country, it is easy to push our remorse aside. It is easy to go about our daily lives with not even as much as a thought going out to the people of Haiti. It is easy to think that someone else will help relieve Haiti; someone who is closer, someone with more resources. It is even easy to think that Haiti’s problems do not and will not affect our small town college.Even we, poor college students in the Midwest, have everything it takes to give not only materials and resources to a person in Haiti, but also to provide them with hope for a better tomorrow. Everyone has old or unworn T-shirts from various high school and college clubs and teams. T-Shirts for Haiti, a group started recently here at Simpson, will be collecting students’ T-shirts to supply Mission Haiti. This group will take your shirts, cut them into strips, knot the strips together and send them to northern Iowa. There, a group of volunteers led by my grandma, Geri Kraai of Rock Valley will crochet the strips into sleeping mats. A group of volunteers from Mission Haiti will distribute the mats to the hurting people.It doesn’t stop there. Later this year, a group of volunteers will return to Haiti where they will teach local women to make the mats themselves. Mission Haiti will first provide the women with the T-shirts supplied by the students of Simpson and other citizens from across Iowa. The mats will be a way for the local people to provide for their own families and will also be a source of income for the women who will make the mats. Once the people start selling the mats and making an income, they will be able to buy t-shirts themselves to make the mats.How can you help in this relief effort for Haiti? Start by joining the group on facebook called T-Shirts for Haiti. Visit the group page regularly to see updates from me about progress and other activities the group will be doing later in the semester including shipping-cost fundraisers and strip cutting. Then, dig through your old T-shirts and donate them in marked bins located in all residence halls, in the BSC, and at my room Barker 133. Next, spread the word. The more T-shirts we collect, the more of Haiti’s hurting people we can help. It takes approximately 72 regular sized T-shirts to make one sleeping mat.We have the resources to help Haiti in their time of great need. An old, donated T-shirt can and will mean the world to someone.Questions about T-Shirts for Haiti? Want to find out how you or a group you are involved in can volunteer with this mission? Email me at [email protected], add me on facebook and send me a message, or call me at 641-521-3673.If you want to donate money directly to Mission Haiti please visit www.mission-haiti.org.