Heartland group aids in Ebola relief effort - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Heartland group aids in Ebola relief effort

MARION, IL (KFVS) - An Illinois based organization is taking a hands on approach to combating the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The Hands of Hope Foundation is based out of the Community of Faith Church in Marion. Executive director Dr. Troy D. Benitone has been taking southern Illinois volunteers to Liberia since 2008 to do mission work and help rebuild the war-torn country.

But since the Ebola outbreak started, the group has turned its attention to helping the relief effort.

Prior to the outbreak, volunteers spent time setting up clinics and providing medical training to people there.

While southern Illinois and other local volunteers are back home and safe, the organization is still sending supplies and money to help the medical workers still working in harm's way.

For those who spent time with the people in the Liberia, the disease's impact hits closer to home.

"People we worked with in the hospital, in the operating rooms are gone. So it's not a disease over there for us” Benitone said. “For many people in southern Illinois that have been a part of Hands of Hope, we take it personal, we know these folks, they're us, they're our friends."

Benitone said he planned to take his group back to Liberia in March, but the spread of the disease has put that trip on hold.

This Saturday Hands of Hope is holding a free, all-day event to help raise money for supplies needed in African hospitals and clinics. It will feature live music, food, and games for the kids.

Hands of Hope website: http://www.hohfoundation.org/

Hopefest 2014 info: http://www.hopefest2014.com/

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