Allen strong-arms it in Haiti on Feb. 19, helping clear debris from a blocked road to open access for emergency and sanitation workers. "I don't think there is any way to prepare [for a trip like this]," says Allen, who was invited to visit the country by American Idol creator Simon Fuller and made the trek with the United Nations Foundation.
Wearing a hopeful grin, the Idol star distributes supplementary high-energy biscuits to women and their young children. Allen tells PEOPLE he was "willing to do whatever," during his time there, "whether it be feeding people, building something or playing with kids."
Allen shares the gift of music with a group of local children – including one jamming on a homemade guitar! Calling the one-day visit "inspiring," the Idol winner Tweeted about his experience, saying, "the smiles that we saw today were very bright." He tells PEOPLE he hopes he can return soon "and be there a little bit longer."
One very happy tot gets a boost from the guitar-toting singer inside a "baby tent," an area for women to nurse and receive medical attention for their young. Allen will appear on this Thursday's episode of American Idol to talk about his experiences. "I'm going to do a performance and hopefully help to raise awareness about what's still going on in Haiti," the "Live Like We're Dying" singer says. "It needs a lot of rebuilding."