Cans-for-cows program helps Haitian farmers

SUN PHOTO BY TOM CHANG The Rev. Wes Runk, pastor, moves donations of cans to a recycling bin at Hope Lutheran Church in Gulf Cove. The church is accepting can donations to sell to purchase cows for the Lutheran Church of Haiti to assist Haitian farmers.

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.


About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News,, and Tampa Tribune.
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