Richmond County people are responding to calls for help in the wake of a magnitude-7 earthquake in Haiti that has left 200,000 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.
“I’ve been getting calls all day,” said Pam Park with the Richmond County Red Cross. “People are calling and asking how to donate and a P.O. box number (for the Red Cross).”
As of Jan. 17, the Red Cross had raised over $103 million for relief efforts worldwide.
Just eight days after the initial earthquake, a 6.1-magnitude aftershock shook Port-au-Prince at 6:03 a.m. Wednesday. It was the largest of more than 40 tremors since Jan. 12 and caused more damage and more injuries.
Checks and money orders, along with debit card transactions, are what Park says the Red Cross is currently looking for locally.
The Red Cross will not be accepting clothing, food and other items. That’s due to the amount of time, money and manpower that would be needed to get the items into the county and the fact there is nowhere in Haiti to store it.
The Red Cross said that $100 in donations can provide a month’s worth of basic supplies for a family in Haiti.
Park said people should not expect checks to clear for at least a week as they are sent to Red Cross’ national offices in Washington, D.C.
To put it into perspective, Park said compare the $10 you would donate to relief funds as buying two morning lattes or going to a fast food restaurant for lunch for two days.
“You’re essentially giving life,” Park said.
According to Park, once the local need for blood is met, they can begin sending supplies overseas to Haitians in need.
“People need to know how desperately we’re needing to meet our local goal and than we can begin sending that to Haiti,” Park said.
Since the onset of winter, type O negative and type B negative blood supplies have dropped in North Carolina to what the Red Cross calls, “emergency levels.”
The Red Cross also accepts cash donations for relief via text messages.
By texting “HAITI” to 90999 and contributing $10, that amount is applied to the person’s cell phone bill the following month.
The text message service has raised more than $21 million so far, according to reports from the Red Cross.
In addition to local charities, organizations and non-profits are sending their support as well through both monetary donations and in supplies.
UNICEF, CARE, Doctors Without Borders and National Nurses United are just a few of the dozens of organizations seeking support. Even publications like Paste Magazine are offering music downloads and CDs in exchange for donations for Haiti.
Anyone wanting to donate to Haiti can mail check or money order to American Red Cross, P.O. Box 246, Rockingham, NC 28380. Write on check “For Haiti”. To make a credit or debit donation, call 1-800-Red Cross or go online to www.redcross.org.
For a more complete list of active organizations currently taking donations of all types, visit www.interaction.org.
Staff writer Bryan Stewart can be reached at 997-3111 ext. 15 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.