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Heart to Heart International: Immediate Response to Disaster

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Whether it is an EF-4 tornado in Tennessee, an earthquake in Puerto Rico, wildfires in California, a hurricane in the Bahamas, a cyclone in Africa or a global pandemic affecting every country in the world, Heart to Heart International’s disaster response delivers medical supplies and personnel to locations far and wide as well as right here in Kansas City.

In 1992, Heart to Heart International, or HHI, began with the simple idea of helping people in need. After Dr. Gary Morsch saw empty shelves in hospitals and pharmacies throughout Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he and others delivered 75 tons of donated medical supplies and equipment from Kansas City, the heart of America, to Moscow, the heart of Russia . 

Heart to Heart International was born. More airlifts of medicines and medical supplies followed, including to Vietnam, India, China and many of the former Soviet states, including Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Georgia. 

Since then, HHI has grown from an organization dedicated primarily to medical relief airlifts to one that ships medicines and medical supplies to nonprofit partners and clinics throughout the United States and the world; helps improve U.S. laboratory capabilities for clinics; and deploys medical response teams in the aftermath of disasters. 

HHI’s highly qualified, self-contained disaster response team provides medical care, including triage, first aid, stabilization and referral of severe trauma as well as basic emergency care of pediatrics, obstetrics and mental health needs. HHI emergency medical teams have responded to such disasters as 9/11; Hurricane Katrina; the Haiti earthquake; the Joplin tornado; the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado; Typhoon Haiyan; the Ebola crisis in Liberia; Hurricane Harvey; Hurricane Maria; Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Dorian. 

When the immediate needs of a disaster recede, HHI works to improve health access by empowering communities to develop and maintain self-sufficient healthcare systems, helping communities move from the point of survival to the path of sustainability. HHI works with communities in Haiti on medical and reforestation programs; in Puerto Rico on safe water and community resilience; and in Bahamas on long-term solutions to healthcare access. 

Hygiene kits, a critical aspect of disaster response, offer the public their first step on the road to recovery. Named for Dr. Gary Morsch’s book The Power of Serving Others, HHI’s PowrServ program assembles hygiene kits with partner corporations. Since PowrServ’s inception in 2016, HHI has distributed more than 375,000 kits to people in need after disasters or humanitarian crises.

Volunteers contribute to every aspect of HHI’s mission, including deploying to locations during disasters, working in the Lenexa, Kansas, warehouse, and assembling thousands of hygiene kits. Heart to Heart employs fewer than 40 staff members at its Lenexa Heart to Heart headquarters but is able to make a serious impact on the world by using the skills of thousands of dedicated volunteers every year.

You Can Help!
To volunteer with Heart to Heart, please visit Opportunities include disaster response, administrative and PowrServ through assembling hygiene kits.