BOZEMAN — Dozens of Gallatin Valley families recently came together for the second Future Forward for Haiti Packathon.
Rice and beans — it turns out that is all it takes to make a life-changing impact on families half a world away.
“Each meal has rice and beans, dehydrated vegetables, and vitamin powder,” said Kay Rosen, Packathon coordinator.
This year more than 400 people of all ages took part.
“You fill up a bag and you just check the weight, and they seal it shut and then they put it in the box and they ship it off to Haiti,” said Everette Card, who volunteered along with others on the Bozeman Barracudas Swim Team.
The event took place at Bozeman’s Hope Lutheran Church, uniting for the cause. The goal: to feed moms and dads and children in Haiti for a year with 75,000 meals.
“It makes me very proud of the community. Seeing us all come together for a cause is just amazing,” said Analiese Brinkerhoffmiller, who volunteered with her Girl Scout Troop, 3557.
Organizers say this Packathon does pack a powerful punch for families in Haiti, families who struggle with day-to-day life where means to provide food can be scarce. But they say when we reach out, families can worry less, and that means instead of working or struggling, more kids can get to school.
“There are people beyond those mountains with needs who are just as worthy as we are here in Gallatin County,” said Rosen. “When graduating from grade six is not the norm, you know they’re needy.”
“To get together for something simple, just standing and scooping for an hour or two and what happens for families, it’s a tangible difference; it’s amazing,” said Paul Goodman, Youth Pastor of Hope Lutheran Church.
They came from different denominations and organizations and teams.
“Our motto is better athletes, better people, and this is the better people part. They work to serve their community and the greater community at large,” said Megan Bolasco of the Bozeman Barracudas.
“We have so many great resources here in Bozeman and it’s hard to imagine somebody that doesn’t have that,” said Amelia Olson, also of the Barracudas.
“As a Girl Scout, we try to help as many people as possible and I think one of the biggest things we can do is try to help another country,” said Mallory Handelin of Troop 3557.
“It is amazing just to know we are feeding an entire school of children for an entire school year,” said Marc Beck of Christ the King Lutheran Church.
Volunteers say it’s an experience that reminds them how lucky we are to have food on the tables.
“They were explaining that sometimes families plan to eat every other day, and our life in Bozeman is so different from that reality,” said Bolasco.
They also say at a time when celebrating diversity is taking center stage it’s extraordinary to not only come together with different races and backgrounds from Bozeman but also know they are reaching out across so many miles.
“Seventy-five thousand meals for children in Haiti, it’s a big deal,” said Goodman.
“I’m just so proud to be from The Treasure State where people are sharing their treasure,” said Rosen.
After packing, families also got to sample the rice and beans that are now on the way to Haiti.