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Admin spearheads sweet relief to Haiti

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As people around the world continue to send aid to Haiti, in the wake of a 7.0 earthquake on Jan. 12, an appointment coordinator at Imperial Sugar Co.,  recently joined the effort by arranging the donation of more than 5,000 pounds of the sweetener.

Brenda Rose, based at a refinery in Port Wentworth, Ga., used her organizational and “powers of persuasion” skills to work through the logistical challenges of delivering pure cane granulated sugar to Haiti.

“I’ve been so excited to come to the office in the morning and work on this,” says Rose. “It’s tougher than I thought it would be,” she says. “There are so many hoops to jump through, I feel like I’m in the circus.”

Those following the earthquake story already know that getting supplies to the people in need hasn’t been easy. The earthquake initially damaged Port-au-Prince’s north and south piers, making the import of supplies by ship impossible. Ten days after the earthquake, Haitian authorities and the U.S. military had reopened one pier, allowing one ship at a time to dock.

Before even contending with the challenge of finding a functional dock in Haiti, Rose had to jump through her first hoop: getting all 2,560 two-pound bags of sugar to a dock in the United States. To solve that problem, she requested a favor from a friend who owns a tractor-trailer line. “He said he’d pull the container wherever we want him to,” says Rose.

Next, she had to find an organization willing to donate a shipping container—which she found through the charity group, Food for the Poor.

Once the shipping container is in Haiti, it probably won’t come back. “I’ve seen the news,” says Rose. “I know that once they unload the container, it’s going to be used as housing. We’re good with that.”

The next hoop was the most challenging: finding a ship to take the container to Haiti—which she finally found, after dozens of phone calls to friends in Florida and overseas.

On Feb. 11, nearly one month after she started working on the effort, Rose watched with gratification as 18 pallets of sugar were put on a truck bound for Miami, so they could be transferred to a shipping container and sent to Haiti. With the hoop-jumping behind her, Rose immediately began gathering monetary donations from co-workers to give to the Red Cross’s Haiti relief fund.

It’s a huge accomplishment, but Rose doesn’t expect praise. “Someone helped us out at one time, so it’s our turn. I don’t need accolades. I get what I need from God.”

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