The Story of the Baskets: The Start of Outreach Program
Floyd Hammer wanted to enjoy retirement and sail the world with his wife, Kathy. Then a friend invited them to go to Tanzania, Africa, to remodel an old Leprosy hospital and build an AIDs hospice. Since Floyd owned a construction company – among many other successful businesses (they owned the first plastics recycling plant in the U.S.) – he was a. perfect fit.
In 2003, Floyd and Kathy made their first trip to Tanzania to the remote Nkungi village in the Singida Region. Once there, Floyd and Kathy were shocked with the desperation and hunger. In 2004 when they saw the 5th little child die, Kathy cried to Floyd, “We have to do something! We can’t allow these children to die like this!”
Floyd purchased truckloads of maize (corn) and the people in the village were instructed that they could barter for the grain. Because Floyd and Kathy knew the villagers had almost nothing with which to trade, Floyd asked for construction supplies he knew people could easily get; sand, aggregate, and charcoal.
Floyd and Kathy were stunned the next morning when they saw hundreds of women carrying beautiful hand-woven grass baskets. One by one, they traded baskets for grain. Since then, Outreach has purchased over 65,000 baskets! You can purchase these baskets on our website here.
Floyd and Kathy asked the villages in the ward what they needed most. The village leaders and elders said they needed four things: water, food, medicine, and education. Those four things have now become the four promises of Outreach; The mission of Outreach is to provide safe water, food, medical care and education to children and those in need at home and abroad. For the success of Outreach, Floyd and Kathy were invited to the White House by President Obama and former President Bush to receive the 5,000th Point of Light Award.
As non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, Outreach has helped to package more than 354 million meals that have been distributed across the United States and around the world. Outreach Meal Packaging Events are set up across the United States to engage businesses, religious and civic organizations, schools, and volunteers of all ages to package nutritious meals for the hungry. In response to numerous requests for meals focused on domestic hunger, Outreach partnered with Iowa State University’s Food Science to create four nutritious and tasty domestic meals which you can find here.
In addition to domestic activity, Outreach is expanding their international activity in Tanzania. Two Medical Mission teams travel to the Singida region each year providing surgical services and medical clinics. Outreach has also built two Children’s Centers; one in Singida and the other in Manyoni. At these Centers, Outreach provides a nutritious meal, school uniforms and supplies, to the most vulnerable children. At Singida, we serve over 700 children and the Manyoni Center opened in August of ’14 and will serve over 1,200. You can sponsor a child at one of Centers here.
Floyd and Kathy didn’t retire; they repurposed.