How You Can Help The Haitians
Wednesday - January 20, 2010
Although we are experiencing tough times here at home, I encourage those who can to reach out and help. It’s in times like these that we must show the kind of compassion and humanity that has defined the best of our national character for generations. - President Barack Obama
What is happening to the people of Haiti is shocking and heartbreaking. We in America are the luckiest people on earth. The people in Haiti are among the unluckiest, the poorest, the sickest and, now, the most devastated.
So how do we help? Send money. Money will buy food. Money will buy water. Money will make it possible to mobilize volunteers and equipment for rescue, recovery, rebuilding.
Aid organizations need money to send doctors and workers and medicine and tents and ... So much is needed. Everything is needed. And it all costs money.
Here are some suggestions: First, of course, the Red Cross. It is still the lead organization when it comes to responding to disasters. From the Web site:
“The American Red Cross honors donor intent. People who want to help those affected by the Haitian earthquake can make a donation to the American Red Cross International Response Fund at Redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.
“Donations also can be sent to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013, or online at http://www.redcross.org. You can also call in your donations to the Hawaii Red Cross at 739-8109 or mail your donation to American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter, 4155 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu, HI 96816. If you would like to donate specifically to the Haiti relief effort, please indicate so on your check or when you call, and your donor intent will be honored.
“The Red Cross also is receiving money through a third-party mobile fundraising effort sponsored by Mobile Accord. Mobile donors can text ‘Haiti’ to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross. The funds will go to support the Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.”
It’s easy to find legitimate aid agencies if you own a computer. InterAction, a coalition of U.S.-based international non-governmental organizations, has a list of agencies responding and how to donate to them. Find it here: http://www.interaction.org/crisis-list/earthquake-haiti.
Also, singer Wyclef Jean, who is Haitian, has a charity organization that is already on the ground in that country. It’s called Yele.
“I cannot stress enough what a human disaster this is, and idle hands will only make this tragedy worse ... Many people have already reached out to see what they can do right now ... You can use your cell phone to text ‘Yele’ to 501501, which will automatically donate $5 to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund (it will be charged to your cell phone bill).” -Wyclef Jean.
The Web site: http://www.yele.org/.
So give. It’s the best way to help. But be smart and be careful. The FBI has issued a warning about possible scammers who, sadly, will try to take advantage of kind-hearted people. Here is the statement from the FBI:
“Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, to include the following:
* Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
* Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites. Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.
* Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
* Make contributions directly to known organizations.
* Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.”
Also, don’t ever donate cash. Make the check out to the name of the charity, not the person asking for money. And get a receipt with the name of the charity on it. Do not give your credit card number to telemarketers or use it on a Web site of a charity you have not checked out.
There is unspeakable suffering going on in Haiti. The numbers are staggering. The grief unimaginable. The living conditions chaotic and appalling.
So please give - but give carefully and only what you can afford. Haiti needs us right now. We’re all members of the worldwide ohana.
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