Million Meals for Haiti hits almost 90 percent of goal on first day

CHAMPAIGN – With 88 percent of their goal met by 5:30 p.m. Saturday, organizers of the Millions Meals for Haiti are asking for volunteers for only the first shift Sunday.

"We have totally blown the production out of the water," Mike Fuqua, Salvation Army envoy, told volunteers in west Champaign late Saturday afternoon. "We're way above where we projected we would be."

Kris Fuqua asked that volunteers come only for the 1 to 3 p.m. shift Sunday, knowing that they will run out of the rice, beans, soy, protein and vegetables to package by the end of the first scheduled shift.

Salvation Army, Numana and University of Illinois Interfaith in Action volunteers had planned to work from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

"It's unbelievable," said Daneline Almonord Short, 34, of Champaign, of the herculean charitable effort for her native country.

A licensed practical nurse who is studying at Parkland College, Almonord Short spent three hours at the event in the old Hobby Lobby store on Glenn Park Drive. She was thinking of her father and three siblings and their families, who were left homeless after the Jan. 11 earthquake.

"People were happy. We accomplished so much," she said.

Volunteer coordinator Jerry Geren of St. Joseph estimated there were 4,200 volunteers Saturday.

They filled enough bags with the dried food to make 880,000 meals, which should be in the suffering island nation within two weeks.

The group has enough food to make more than 1 million meals, which they predict they'll easily surpass early Sunday.

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