submitted by Jan Mayer
When Steve Boyd told his wife, Nancy, of Greenwood Village, that an empty airplane was headed to Haiti from Centennial, shefelt a “need to stuff every nook and cranny” with baby blankets. It turned out she wasn’t the only one hungry to help.
Nancy phoned friends, family, church members and fellow quilters. From that point, the plan snowballed. Within six days, 500 blankets, 19 cases of insulin, food, medical supplies, and other needed items filled the small plane with 2,500 pounds of aid.
“People have been extremely anxious to donate and help. They feel an emotional connection. The comment I have heard over and over is that they are grateful for the opportunity to contribute,” Nancy said.
Donating personal time to fly the plane and deliver supplies was the pilot, Capt. Steve Richards, Steve Boyd, pilot and co-owner of the plane, and his son, Dr. James Boyd. The owners of the Pilatus airplane had agreed to make it available for assistance after watching the horror that was haunting Haiti. Richards immediately went to work contacting relief organizations and found that GO Ministries in Santiago, Dominican Republic, desperately needed a plane that size to get in and out of smaller airports.
The employees and customers at Great American Quilt Factory contributed 460 blankets – mostly handmade – and thanked Boyd for the opportunity to participate. In addition, the Relief Society (woman’s group) of the Orchard Ward of the Littleton Stake (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) made 60 blankets, working right up to the night before the plane left for Haiti.
“Those who helped wanted to send something tangible that expressed their concern and caring for the many who are suffering in Haiti,” Boyd said. “Many have also donated money to relief organizations, but loved being allowed to lend a personal touch to their contributions.”
Coincidentally, at the same time the blankets were being assembled, The Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes had 19 cases of insulin – $20,000 worth – and other diabetic supplies ready to go, but no way to get the load to Haiti. Because of the short shelf life of insulin, time was running out. Kathy Crapo and Judy McNeil contacted the center just in time.
Generous donations pored in from individuals and companies as the word was spread on Web sites and through e-mail.
Vitamins and herbal supplements were donated in large quantities and medical supplies came from Henry Schein, supplier to Clear Choice Dental Implant Centers. Friends, family, colleagues and church members donated thousands of dollars to help with the cost of fuel.
When Dr. Boyd went to Jacmel, he took two large containers of baby blankets. On the 20-minute drive to the clinic where he would work, he explained to the driver that his mom and her friends made the blankets and would like them to go to children in need. Surprisingly, the driver worked at an orphanage where there are 44 children so they made a stop to deliver the blankets. Not only was the staff delighted, one little child took his blanket and excitedly ran away. Recipients of the blankets have been touched by the quality and beauty of the gifts, Boyd said. Dr. Boyd had another 40 blankets for the clinic, which was built by an American in the 1970s. He said the OR is equivalent to an American hospital in the 1940s, but it’s clean and needed. They saw about 25 patients the first day, mostly sick, but some with injuries. It was a quiet day – technically the clinic is closed on the weekend – but one little baby girl was born, and given a blanket from unseen friends in Colorado.
Steve Boyd took additional blankets to Port de Paix, where the runway is a dirt road through town, and the goats have to scurry out of the way as the planes land. Relief workers gratefully took blankets to a hospital where families must provide their own personal items, sheets, blankets, and food for the patients. Most babies have been wrapped in rags or pieces of towels.
“While food and medical supplies are desperately needed and appreciated, the blankets have been an emotional connection for many people – both giving and receiving,” she added.
As aid money has become available, food has been purchased in the Dominican Republic to distribute to towns in Haiti. People line up for food as it comes in, and each family is given food such as rice, beans, corn meal, tomato sauce and sardines. When the supplies run out, they take the names of the people next in line so they can be first when food arrives again. Boyd and Richards flew 44 legs, carrying 600-800 lbs. of food and supplies in each load. Additionally, they were able to transport more than 30 medical personnel and relief workers in and out of various towns.
Because commercial airlines have been restricted and border crossing on the ground has been limited, this type of plane has been critical to relief efforts in the past few weeks. But that doesn’t mean the complex and severe problems are near to being remedied.
“There is much more to do and we are extremely happy to do our small part to help,” Nancy Boyd said. “We are also touched by the sincere concern demonstrated by so many people. They have made a difference.”
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