A Rogers County family will pack its bags and fly to Haiti on Thursday. The death toll is now more than 1,000 in Haiti as a result of Hurricane Matthew.
Jordan Clevenger and her parents have a deep connection to the country; Clevenger adopted her daughter, Averie, from a Haiti orphanage in 2014.
Now six years old, Averie loves to play and do gymnastics. She has a blissful life in Oklahoma, but Clevenger knows if she had not adopted her, Averie's life in her home country would look so different today.
"If she hadn't come home, she would be in that same situation," Clevenger said. "There are starving children. They have no homes, no food, no water, no nothing."
Clevenger and her parents will fly out of Oklahoma on Thursday morning. They visit Haiti every year to see Averie's orphanage, but this trip is different. This time, they'll be helping hurricane victims directly.
The family will assemble relief packages with Canaan Christian Community church in Port-au-Prince. Then, they'll drive several hours each day to the hardest-hit areas and give them out.
Connie Tolbert, Clevenger's mother, said the family felt they had to return.
"It's heart-wrenching," Tolbert said. "It's places we've been, places we've seen, people we know. It's hard."
It's even worse, the family explained, because Haitians were still trying to rebuild their country from the 2010 earthquake's destruction. Then, this disaster washed that progress away.
"So many people were still living in tents and fallen-down buildings," Tolbert said. "So, it isn't good on a good day. And it's really bad now."
The family said they just want to give back to the place that gave them the gift of Averie.
"We fell in love with the country and the people, and we just want to give back to them," Clevenger said.
The family is accepting the following material donations at their home:
If you would like to donate any of these items before Thursday, email email@example.com.
The family said cash donations are preferred since the volunteers will be purchasing food items and other necessities for the victims in Haiti. That money will go directly to the Haitian economy, they said.
If you would like to donate money, you can do that here.