Sanitarium responds to Christchurch crisis
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Sanitarium responds to Christchurch crisis

Published on: 24 February, 2011

In the wake of the devastation wreaked by the earthquake in Christchurch, the Adventist Church and its entities have jumped into action, in an effort to help in any way they can.

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA NZ) has been working closely with the civil authorities and the Salvation Army to provide immediate physical relief to those scattered in the three or four evacuation centres around Christchurch.   

Part of the relief needed by those who had lost homes and accommodation was breakfast. New Zealand’s leading breakfast cereal company, Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing, provided Weet-Bix, So Good and Up and Go to 1100 people in two of the evacuation centres.

Pierre van Heerden (R), general manager for Sanitarium in New Zealand.

“I received an urgent request at 1:00am this morning for Sanitarium and ADRA to feed 1100 people at two sites as they don't have sufficient food there,” said Pierre van Heerden, general manager for Sanitarium in New Zealand.

Staff came in during the night to ensure those at the centers would get breakfast. Sanitarium may have to extend that help tomorrow as numbers are confirmed and things settle down.

“We have been very blessed and lost very little stock,” said Mr van Heerden. In the September earthquake much of the warehouse stock was damaged, however very little damage was done in the latest shocks.

Sanitarium's Papanui factory providing underground bore water for the residents of Christchurch.  

“It is amazing to see [members of] the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council pull together and offer to donate necessities for the crisis,” said Mr van Heerden, who also serves as Vice Chairman of the council. “We have had calls coming in from people wanting to donate stock. We have referred them to ADRA.”

Sanitarium’s Papanui office will be closed for the rest of the week but they are ready to ship stock to wherever it is needed when retailers begin to open. The company will forgo significant production over the coming days, Mr van Heerdan said. "The big thing for us first is the health and welfare of our staff and the community."

Sanitarium has given ADRA NZ some of their office space so they can coordinate their response from there.

“We are working with authorities to ensure that a coordinated and planned approach is taken,” said Mr van Heerden.

Sanitarium's Papanui factory used as a triage centre.

Meanwhile, Sanitarium’s property is still being used as a triage center. The center was closed down and moved closer to the city center, however it has now been reopened as people from amputees to those with minor cuts and bruises keep coming in.

With 75 confirmed dead and many more missing, the New Zealand government have declared the country an emergency zone, so they can take what actions they need to provide those in Christchurch with the essentials.

Paramedics debriefing outside the entrance to the Sanitarium Papanui office in Christchurch.  

“The major thing I would ask Adventist church members from around the Division is to pray for the people of Christchurch. Especially those who have lost loved ones and those who are injured or have lost property,” said Mr van Heerden.

Tomorrow RECORD will bring a full report of the state of churches around Christchurch. Many have received minor damage but should be available for worship on Sabbath.  

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Congratulations, Jarrod. This is an incredibly well-written article. I read it all the way to the last paragraph, and it's not often I read all of an article. Again, congratulations.


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The major thing I would ask Adventist church members from around the Division is to pray for the people of Christchurch. Especially those who have lost loved ones and those who are injured or have lost property

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