Minnesota Twins Bless Communities Worlds Apart

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (April 14, 2010) – Identical twins Sydney and Whitney Johnson, 14, were inspired to raise money to build a house in Haiti – forever changing a destitute family’s life – after they heard a Food For The Poor speaker at Immanuel Lutheran Church on Fish Lake, in Prior Lake, Minn.

“We were touched by his message – we felt compassion for the people of Haiti and wanted to help,” Sydney said.

The twins, their family and nine of their friends organized a children’s Christmas party at the church. Parents, desperate for babysitters during the busy Christmas season, agreed to drop off their children for five-and-a-half-hours, giving the parents time to run last-minute errands, enjoy some much-needed quiet time, or treat themselves to a romantic evening.

Laughter temporarily transformed the church’s education hall into “Santa’s workshop,” as the group sang Christmas carols, ate delicious treats and played games. The babysitters helped the 50 children who attended the party personalize their Christmas ornaments and decorate homemade cookies. 

“We did not charge for this event, but rather offered our services,” Sydney said.

Members of the congregation without children were so inspired by the twins’ initiative that they also donated to the cause. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Scott County Branch agreed to match raised funds up to $600.

“With the outpouring of support from our friends, brothers and sisters in Christ and Thrivent Financial, we were able to surpass our goal of building a house and raised $3,245 for Food For The Poor,” Sydney said.

Food For The Poor can build a simple housing unit for a destitute family for $2,600; one with a latrine costs $3,100. The concrete-block homes that Food For The Poor has built in the past will be further improved with structural reinforcements. Since Haiti’s Jan. 12 earthquake, Food For The Poor is able to build about 300 homes a month but the agency has a goal of 5,000 houses in Haiti this year.

“We continue to pray for Food For The Poor and the people of Haiti every day. Please continue your tremendous work. It is a great example of God’s love,” Sydney said.

“I am deeply moved by the twins’ encouraging words,” said Angel Aloma, Food For The Poor’s Executive Director. “Immediately following the catastrophic earthquake, I traveled to Haiti. Each day for a week I wore a clean, bright yellow Food For The Poor shirt. One hot and humid afternoon, as I was leaving one of the makeshift tents at the General Hospital, a young man holding a very sick infant stopped me – not to ask for help, but to tell me that they pray for us and for our donors every day.” 
The twins said this year they plan to host another children’s Christmas party at the church. They said the church youth group is considering joining the initiative.

Involve your church in Food For The Poor’s Haiti rebuilding effort by calling 1-877-654-2960, ext. 6988 or by e-mailing churchschool@foodforthepoor.org.

Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.

Jennifer Leigh Oates

Public Relations

954.427.2222, ext. 6054