GULF COVE — Local resident Gene Sewell is in need of new kidneys, but that hasn’t stopped him from giving to the less fortunate. He donates six to seven bags of cans per week for Hope Lutheran Church’s cans-forcows program to benefit the Lutheran Church of Haiti.
“It’s great knowing that children will go to bed on a full stomach,” he said.
The cans-for-cows program is a fundraising effort, where donations of cans are made to the Gulf Cove church. The cans are sold to recyclers, and the proceeds are used to purchase cows for Haitian dairy farms. The farmers get the cow, feed their families with the dairy products produced, and sell what’s left over. Calves born from the cows are donated to other farmers to repeat the cycle.
“It takes a lot of cans, 52 per pound, and we get 50 cents per pound to buy a cow,” said the Rev. Wes Runk, church pastor. “So far we have accomplished over half of the goal.”
To date, the church has raised $6,500, enough for 13 cows, and it would like to raise $12,500, for a total of 25 cows.
Runk said the church receives $70 to $100 per week on average from the can donations.
“It takes about 1,000 cans for a cow,” Sewell said. “We have a steady flow of cans.”
Runk quoted the Chinese proverb, “You know what they say, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.’”
The money will be presented to the Lutheran Church of Haiti during Hope Lutheran’s jazz Mass at 7 p.m. Sunday.
Jorel Carte, assistant to the president of the Lutheran Church of Haiti, will be on hand on behalf of the Rev. Joseph Livenson Lauvanus, pastor, whom Runk met as a member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Venice. Lauvanus, who interned at Emmanuel Lutheran, now runs the Lutheran Church of Haiti.
“The idea is to have the (Haitian) farmers be independent so that we don’t have to keep providing for them,” Runk said. “The Haitian church has been working on this program for three years.”
Hope Lutheran is located at 14200 Hopewell Ave. For more information or to donate cans, call 941-697-2345.