Locals seek food, water for Haiti

JohnMark Conklin (in the gray cap) and members of Scout Troop 118 from Brooks United Methodist Church load up donated supplies of rice, beans and water destined for earthquake victims in Haiti. Collections will continue Sunday afternoon at the Starr’s Mill Chick-fil-A on Ga. Highway 74 South.

Eagle Scout projects can take many forms. For Starr’s Mill High School senior JohnMark Conklin, the idea of collecting staple foods and water for earthquake victims in Haiti was just the thing to do. JohnMark is partnering with New Hope Church South and with Tyrone-based Operation Mobilization to collect rice, beans and water and to have it shipped to the Caribbean island.

Peachtree City resident JohnMark, his parents and fellow scouts from Troop 118 at Brooks United Methodist Church began collecting rice, beans and water a couple of weeks ago at the Starr’s Mill Chick-fil-A on Ga. Highway 74 on Peachtree City’s southside. The effort will continue this Sunday at that location. That effort so far has resulted in contributions of 2,500 pounds of beans and rice and 1,000 pounds of water, JohnMark said.

“This is a way of accomplishing something,” he said of the effort. “It seems small, a bag of rice or beans. But it’s not small. Fifty pounds of rice will feed 500 people for one meal.”

JohnMark challenged are residents to bring supplies of rice, beans and water to the Chick-fil-A at 1222 Hwy. 74 South on Sunday.
But why do this, really?

“I have a really big heart for people of all cultures. I feel especially that here in Peachtree City people need to be more aware. Peachtree City is a bubble and the rest of the world is not. And the people in Haiti today have a need for the basic necessities of life,” JohnMark explained. “As for this project, I could have built a picnic table as a project for Eagles Scouts, but this project will feed thousands and thousands of people. So it’s not just an Eagle Scouts project. It’s a project to help Peachtree City get activated to give and to donate to this cause. We have so much here and we take so much for granted.”

JohnMark is working on making a trip to the earthquake-devastated area and hopes to travel with the Operation Mobilization group. The first flight of staples left earlier this week, with another tentatively set for next week.

JohnMark is no stranger to getting to other regions of the world. He was in Darfur last summer and has made other trips to Kenya, Moldava, Mexico and South Africa on previous occasions.

And today, the current effort to collect much-needed food and water for Haiti’s earthquake victims has also been taken up by Peeples Elementary School and by the Strong Rock School in Locust Grove, JohnMark said.

As for JohnMark, he is determined to help those who need it and he hopes to see a lot of area residents at the Chick-fil-A on Sunday between noon and 4 p.m.