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Ohio Haiti Benefit Auction on a mission for missions

A total of 17 mission booths were available for patrons to peruse during the 31st annual Ohio Haiti Benefit Auction. The variety of missions were created in hopes of helping the people of Haiti become more self-sufficient.

Dave Mast

In general the people of Holmes and Wayne counties don’t truly understand what it is to live in extreme poverty.
The many locals who have ventured to Haiti to serve on one of the many mission trips come home with a new perspective and a deeper appreciation of what they have here, which is why the outpouring of love and compassion to the people of Haiti has seen such an overwhelming amount of support and commitment from Ohio’s Amish Country.
On Friday and Saturday, Sept. 1-2 at Mt. Hope Auction facility, that love and compassion was on full display during the 31st annual Ohio Haiti Benefit Auction.
Friday night saw more than 5,000 people served catfish dinners, and the evening was a huge precursor to what was to come the next day during the auction.
“It’s been amazing,” committee member Dean Wengerd said. “The support is incredible. We have a caring community here that you won’t find anywhere else, whether it is people donating to the auction, buying at the auction or just lending a hand as a volunteer during the weekend.”
The one major change to the auction this year was that it moved down into the large arena building at Mt. Hope Auction, which provided housing for most of the weekend's activities including the main auction and the silent auction.
“It was a challenge because it was something different than we have experienced here in the past,” Wengerd said. “We had to work hard to figure out how to make it flow properly, but once we did, everything came together well and ran smoothly.”
Ohio Haiti Benefit Auction board member JD Stutzman said there were more than 6,000 people in attendance for the auction on Saturday. A full breakfast got the festivities going Saturday morning, and the fun never stopped until the final bid had been made late in the afternoon.
Many people turned out to listen to Pastor Stanley Fox talk about his experiences in Haiti as he spoke about the many exciting things that are taking place in Haiti now. Fox spoke, and the musical group Garments of Praise from Pennsylvania sang Friday evening.
“The support we get from the Amish and Mennonite communities is amazing, and we see people coming here from a lot of different states who are coming to support the mission cause,” Stutzman said.
Stutzman said the commitment level from the Amish and Mennonite community here in Amish Country is one where people recognize a need and want to help any way they can.
“There is such a great deal of need in Haiti right now,” Stutzman said. “But while we give, we also want to teach them how to fish and not just give them everything. That is what most of them want. They don’t just want handouts. They want to learn how to thrive, like through the microfinance programs. Who knows? Eventually we may no longer need an auction as we help foster faith and love in Haiti.”
The main auction itself is a witness to the support this auction receives year after year. Included in the auction were a pair of zero-turn lawn mowers, a 32-by-50-foot garage, a semi-tractor trailer filled with firewood, a white vinyl pagoda, a 10-by-20-foot cabin, a new gazebo, outdoor play sets, dozens of hand-stitched quilts, hardwood bedroom and dining room suits, Amish handcrafted furniture, and all kinds of household items for indoors and outdoors.
Of course there was food everywhere people looked in addition to the breakfast and catfish dinner. Saturday saw people dinging on a barbecue chicken feast as well as the ever-popular authentic Haitian food.
Mike and Joy Yutzy and their daughter Michelle were again on hand to dole out the tantalizing authentic Haitian rice and beans.
While the Yutzys aren’t Haitian, they learned to make the rice and beans from a woman from Haiti, and they have been able to duplicate the same flavor that has highlighted the auction for many years.
“It’s something we enjoy doing as a family,” Joy Yutzy said.
The aroma and flavor of the authentic Haitian dish is only one of the drawing cards for the weekend that connects Amish Country to Haiti.
A record 17 mission booths representing a variety of Haiti support organizations lined the northwest corner of the building. The representation ranged from organizations designed to aid children in school or through faith, to organizations set up to help provide clean water, raise food or provide clothing and shelter.
“We have probably added five missions over the past two or three years,” Wengerd said. “People can get a really good sense of what is taking place by stopping by the mission booths to talk and to see what kind of strides are taking place in Haiti. It is exciting to see that kind of growth and commitment to helping the people of Haiti learn to help themselves while sharing God’s word at the same time.”
The event raises hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, and it all goes back into supporting the people of Haiti and the many missions that provide support, love and compassion for the people of a country in need.
“We have a golden opportunity to make a global impact for those in need,” Wengerd said. “These many organizations are having a huge impact on the ongoing efforts to teach the people of Haiti how to care for themselves. It’s all about teaching them to be more self-sufficient while sharing God’s love, grace and mercy with others.”

Published: September 11, 2017
New Article ID: 2017170909968