Jennifer Grene will never forget the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 and killed more than 300,000 people, including her husband.
Andrew Grene, 44, who was working as a United Nations peace officer, was found dead in the rubble at the UN headquarters in Port-au-Prince.
“He fell in love with Haiti and even extended his two-year stay to three years,” said his twin brother Gregory Grene, of Manhattan. “As tragic as it was that he was there, he left behind a legacy of love and passion.”
In his brother’s memory, he started the Andrew Grene Foundation, opening a high school last August in Port-au-Prince, training families on how to run businesses and coordinating the disbursement of meals to the Village of Hope School and Clinic in Haiti.
“We decided to start a foundation in his name because people didn’t know how to help,” said Jennifer Grene, 51, a teacher at the Long Island Lutheran High School in Brookville. “Because of what Andrew did, we could get food directly there.”
Her husband’s love for Haiti influenced the Hicksville woman to start a meal packing event at her school.
The Visscher Gymnasium at Long Island Lutheran High School was turned into a factory-like setting Saturday with boxes of rice, soy, dried vegetables and seasoning mix on tables.
About 600 students from the school joined a Minnesota ministry and other Long Island churches packing meals Thursday through Saturday. They packed over 300,000 meals during the second annual event. About 20,000 of those meals will stay on Long Island and go to Lutheran Social Services of New York in Uniondale.
High school senior Matt Sanders was among those packing meals.
“It’s important to give back to the community,” said Sanders, 18, of Garden City. “We dived into really helping the greater community and affected areas in Haiti.”
The school is working with the national organization Kids Against Hunger, which will transport and distribute the meals to the children in Haiti.
“We do this to raise compassionate leaders,” said Maureen Bonavita, director of communications at Long Island Lutheran High School. “It’s an awesome experience to learn through action and to see their hands put to use and see immediate results.”
Grene said she was awed by the amount of love shown by Long Islanders at the event.
“He would be very humbled and very pleased that the children of Haiti are being helped,” Grene said. “He loved the people out there, he really felt the people in Haiti were amazing.”