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'Good hearts': Jenison group sends extra local produce to families in Haiti

After the produce is dehydrated, the group sorts it into bags, seals them, and then they go into barrels to be shipped off.

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — Ottawa County is rich with agriculture and farming, but what happens when produce is close to going bad and it has no where to go? 

A local non-profit wanted to be an answer to that question. And now they get extra produce from the fields of West Michigan across the ocean to people in need.

Sus Manos Gleaners is based out of the Jenison/Hudsonville area. 

"Sus Manos is Spanish for 'his hands', meaning God," said Paul Vanderlaan, a member of the group.

The non-profit organization takes fruits and vegetables from local farms before it's thrown away and sends it to people in need.

The produce is shipped all over the world, but recently there has been a lot of need in Haiti.

"We take it into our facility, wash it, trim it, and then chop it all up before it goes into a dehydrator," Vanderlaan explained. 

After the produce is dehydrated, the group sorts it into bags, seals them, and then they go into barrels to be shipped off. 

"A lot of this stuff would get thrown away if we didn't process it," said Vanderlaan, "and that seems like a shame because if food is available then we should use it to help our brothers and sisters."

Sus Manos Gleaners relies entirely on donations and volunteers to make the process happen. 

Volunteer Reverend Tyler Wagenmaker said none of this would even be possible, though, without our local farmers. 

"They have such good hearts," said Wagenmaker. 

"They're hard workers, and they put in long hours, but they don't just keep it to themselves," he added, "they not only help each other, but they really go the extra mile to help out the community."

Wagenmaker said groups like Sus Manos Gleaners are a wonderful representation of how people in West Michigan have really good hearts. 

To learn more about Sus Manos Gleaners or to learn how you can get involved in volunteering opportunities, click here

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