Haiti earthquake prompts convoys of relief and donations

Haiti earthquake prompts convoys of relief and donations

President Barack Obama on Thursday pledged $100 million in response to the Haiti humanitarian crisis, but text messaging and Twitter are giving relief efforts a new face.

U.S. cell phone users have contributed more than $5 million to Haiti through mGive, a nonprofit that has partnered with the Red Cross and wireless service providers to channel donations. A cell phone user texts “HAITI” to 90999 to make a $10 donation that is charged directly to the user’s cell phone bill.

Other efforts include those of Haitian-American singer Wyclef Jean, who recruited donors by Tweeting a request to donate $5 by texting “Yele” to the number 501501.

Lindsey Nelson, a freshman pre-business major, said she would be willing to donate through the text-messaging campaign.

“If the opportunity presented itself, then I would definitely go for it,” Nelson said. “I admit that I have not been actively seeking one.”

Kristen Escher, a junior neuroscience and philosophy major, said she would be inclined to contribute if efforts became more publicized on campus.

The international Red Cross estimates that about 50,000 people were killed in Tuesday’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake, which has provoked an international outpouring of support for the developing country.

But despite the popularity of the text-messaging campaign, local churches are relying on more traditional methods to supply aid to Haiti.

The First Presbyterian Church of Fort Worth is channeling aid to Haiti through the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance fund, which is maintained by the national Presbyterian Church, said Karl Travis, pastor of FPCFW.

The church has close ties to the tragedy. For the past seven years, FPCFW has sent a medical mission to Leogane, Haiti, just a few miles from the epicenter of the earthquake, Travis said. This year’s medical mission was scheduled for Feb. 6 to 13.

“Our church is reeling personally from the earthquake because people with whom we’ve worked, we don’t know whether they are alive,” Travis said.

It is uncertain whether the church will be able to make its scheduled trip to Leogane, Travis said. Volunteers don’t know whether they will be able to fly there, and if they are able to, it is unclear whether the roads are passable and whether locals will be able to provide hospitality, he said.

“There is a sense that this is a disaster on another level,” Travis said.

The church is encouraging its members to contribute financially by bringing a check to Sunday service or stopping by the church office, according to an e-mail Travis sent to the congregation, which he provided to the Skiff.

Dani Cartwright, regional minister and president of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ in the Southwest, said University Christian Church and other Disciples of Christ congregations are being directed to Week of Compassion (weekofcompassion.org), a Disciples of Christ mission fund, and Church World Service (churchworldservice.org), a cooperative ministry of 36 Christian denominations, to volunteer aid.

Cartwright said the church encouraged in-kind relief for Haiti in the form of hygiene kits and baby care kits, which are bundles of supplies that are shipped to the Church World Service’s headquarters in Maryland and then distributed to the people in need. Instructions about how to put together the kits can be found on the charity’s Web site.

In-kind relief is more helpful than directly giving money to the disaster victims because Haitians won’t have access to basic necessities, Cartwright said.

“We can’t just run to Wal-Mart in Haiti and get these things,” she said.

(Staff reporters Lawrence Embry, Jennifer Ivy and Katie Vance, editor-in-chief Julieta Chiquillo and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)





How To Help

Financial aid:

 To donate $10, text “HAITI” to 90999

 To donate $5, text “Yele” to 501501

 Donate online at WeekofCompassion.org

 Drop off a check at your local Red Cross

In-kind aid:

 Assemble supply kits and ship them to Church World Service. For instructions, go to ChurchWorldService.org





Editor’s note: Some of the following images are graphic in nature and may be disturbing to some viewers.