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BLOOMINGTON — Hundman Lumber Company has teamed with Charlie Knapp Builders and a nonprofit relief group to help rebuild homes in hurricane-ravaged Biloxi, Miss.

Enough lumber to build two modest ranch homes, plus other building supplies, headed to the Gulf Coast city Tuesday.

"There is a great need for help in the area," said David Kieser, president of Bloomington-based Midwest Food Bank.

Since Sept. 1, the group's semitrailer trucks have transported 40 trailers full of food and supplies to Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

Before that, the food bank served more than 250 Central Illinois social service groups that worked with people in need, said Kieser.

While making the fall trips, Kieser and other volunteers began to see firsthand the many other needs the community had — in particular a lack of housing.

"Some of these people have no insurance, or little insurance. Each situation is different," he said.

As the Midwest Food Bank transporters became aware of the housing need, they came back to Bloomington-Normal and passed the word to other organizations.

After hearing about the need, Charlie Knapp approached Michael Hundman, owner of the lumber sales company.

Hundman is providing the lumber at cost, said Julia Turner, marketing director for the company.

Hundman runs seven Central Illinois locations.

On Monday, Kieser picked up the trailer full of lumber at Hundman headquarters 1707 Hamilton Road, Bloomington.

Kieser, his wife Wilma, and other volunteers head south on Wednesday with shingles for roof repairs and lumber for construction.

In Biloxi, the Kiesers will take the wood to the site of World Relief.

The group, affiliated with the Apostolic Christian Church, has organized a challenging goal. Teams of 55 volunteers will spend one week helping rebuild the area.

Teams have been booked for every week in January, February and March, said Kieser.

Midwest Food Bank will bring enough food for all those workers, said Kieser.

Kieser's group plans to take two additional semitrailer trucks to Biloxi a week later.


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