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Volunteers Preparing $1.7 Million of Aid for Guatemala

Abby Faulkner

ST. CLOUD – A group of volunteers in St. Cloud is making a deep impact on the health of people in developing countries – and they could use a hand.

The MESSAGE Program was started 12 years ago by Karin Reichensperger, who after traveling to Guatemala, saw a need for things like medical, emergency and fire equipment.

Over time, the organization gained donated warehouse and office spaces to expand their work. Now, she and her volunteers collect, sort, package and ship everything from wheelchairs and hospital beds to fire gear and office furniture to 9 developing countries around the world, all year round.

Reichensperger says she personally oversees the delivery of each container to make sure the items get into the hands of the right people.  The items, donated by hospitals, clinics and individuals from all over Minnesota, are things that can’t be used in the United States anymore, but are in high demand in other nations.

The latest shipment, Reichensperger says, will include a rare find – a portable x-ray machine donated by a medical group in Moose Lake.

The collection process for the latest shipment overseas has come to a close, and now The MESSAGE Program is looking for help. They’re in the middle of loading seven 40 foot containers with 1.7 million dollars worth of aid for Guatemala.

Volunteers will be packing the containers at the Maiers Warehouse at 515 25th Avenue North on Friday from 6:30 to 9:30  p.m., Saturday from 9:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m. and Monday from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

If you’d like to learn more about The MESSAGE Program, or volunteer, call 290-0420.

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