Info sought on local efforts to help Haiti victims

Thu, 01/14/2010 - 4:42pm
By: John Munford

Haiti-Red Cross photo

Photo Courtesy of The American Red Cross

UPDATED (Saturday evening) with March of Dimes information

As locals begin efforts to help Haiti residents recover from the recent earthquake, The Citizen wants to publicize as many of these works as possible as a free service to the community.

If your church, civic group, business or organization is embarking on such an endeavor, please send us an email at Please include details about the mission, including how/where/when others can help.

Also please include contact information and a way for us to verify the relief effort. The Citizen does not wish to contribute to any fraudulent activity that might arise to take advantage of others.

Once the information is verified, your group’s information will be listed here on (Scroll down for advice from the Better Business Bureau on how to discern if an organization is likely legitimate)

• Fayetteville First United Methodist Church will take up an offering at all services this weekend for the people of Haiti.  The money will be sent to UMCOR, The United Methodist Committee on Relief which is the humanitarian aid arm of the United Methodist Church.  The church will also participate in collecting Health Kits that will be sent to Haiti.  Each kit must contain the same items.  Below is a list:
Place these items inside a sealed one-gallon plastic bag.
• 1 hand towel (15" x 25" up to 17" x 27", • 1 washcloth
• 1 comb (large and sturdy, not pocket-sized)
• 1 nail file or fingernail clippers (no • 1 bath-size bar of soap (3 oz. and up)
• 1 toothbrush (single brushes only in original wrapper, No child-size brushes)
• 6 adhesive plastic strip sterile bandages
• $1.00 to purchase toothpaste
More information can be obtained by going to

• On Friday, Jan. 29 Our Lady of Mercy will host local rival Landmark Christian in basketball (JV boys 4:30, Varsity Girls 6:00 and varsity Boys 7:30). OLM will not be charging any fees at the gate. Instead there will be a donation/collection box for the Haitian relief effort. All monies collected will be delivered directly to Catholic Relief Services.
OLM is also taking up donations daily at the school.
The OLM vs Landmark game is normally OLM’s biggest gate of the year. OLM will also be holding a “Pastor Challenge” where Fr. Victor Galier and St. Matthew (Tyrone) will take on Fr. Mike Kingery and Holy Trinity (Peachtree City). Both priests’ will shoot free throws at half time for a chance to win tuition vouchers for OLM to be given to their parishioners. Between the rivalry game and the pastor challenge, OLM hopes to make a large donation to Catholic relief services to be directed to the Haitian relief effort.

• Sweetwater Wellness Center in Fairburn is accepting toiletries such as soap, toothpaste, shampoo and lotion along with canned goods, dry goods, clothing and bottled water to be sent to Haiti. The goods will be sent through local churches and national relief organizations, organizers said.
Sweetwater Wellness is located at 8425 Spence Road (Ga. Highway 92).

Also, here are a few links of worldwide organizations who have already committed significant efforts to Haiti relief:

The March of Dimes has donated $100,000 to UNICEF to help Haitian women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and babies who are in dire need of proper nutrition, safe water, and safe ways to prepare infant formula, as well as supplies such as diapers and clothing. To donate to The March of Dimes, visit its website at or to donate $5, text BABY to 20222.

Click HERE to go to the American Red Cross donation page
(You will be prompted to direct your donation to a specific section of The Red Cross and you can choose to direct that donation to Haiti relief efforts)
The Red Cross is also hosting a text message campaign in which texting the word "HAITI" (without quotation marks) to 90999 will donate $10 to the Red Cross with the charge appearing on your monthly cellphone bill.

Click HERE to go to the Doctors Without Borders donation page

The Better Business Bureau has provided the following information about how citizens can determine if an effort is genuine or perhaps fraudulent:

"As immediate relief needs are assessed in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12th, many Americans are looking for ways to help by donating to a charity. The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance warns that—as occurred following the tsunami in 2004 and Katrina in 2005—fraudulent charities will likely emerge to try and scam donations from well-meaning Americans.

“Whenever there is a major natural disaster, be it home or abroad, there are two things you can count on. The first is the generosity of Americans to donate time and money to help victims, and the second is the appearance of poorly run and in some cases fraudulent charities,” said Fred T. Elsberry, Jr., President & CEO of the BBB Serving Metro Atlanta, Athens & Northeast Georgia. “Not only do Americans need to be concerned about avoiding fraud, they also need to make sure their money goes to competent relief organizations that are equipped and experienced to handle the unique challenges of providing assistance.”

BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following six tips to help Americans decide where to direct donations:

• Rely on expert opinion when it comes to evaluating a charity.
Be cautious when relying on third-party recommendations such as bloggers or other Web sites, as they might not have fully researched the listed relief organizations. The public can go to to research charities and relief organizations to verify that they are accredited by the BBB and meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.

• Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims.
Despite what an organization might claim, charities have fund raising and administrative costs. Even a credit card donation will involve, at a minimum, a processing fee. If a charity claims 100 percent of collected funds will be assisting earthquake victims, the truth is that the organization is still probably incurring fund raising and administrative expenses. They may use some of their other funds to pay this, but the expenses will still be incurred.

• Be cautious when giving online.
Be cautious about online giving, especially in response to spam messages and emails that claim to link to a relief organization. In response to the tsunami disaster in 2004, there were concerns raised about many Web sites and new organizations that were created overnight allegedly to help victims.

• Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas.
Unless the charity already has staff in the effected areas, it may be difficult to get new aid workers to quickly provide assistance. See if the charity’s website clearly describes what they can do to address immediate needs.

• Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups.
Some charities may be raising money to pass along to relief organizations. If so, you may want to consider “avoiding the middleman” and giving directly to charities that have a presence in the region. Or, at a minimum, check out the ultimate recipients of these donations to ensure the organizations are equipped to effectively provide aid.

• Gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations.
In-kind drives for food and clothing—while well intentioned— may not necessarily be the quickest way to help those in need - unless the organization has the staff and infrastructure to be able to properly distribute such aid. Ask the charity about their transportation and distribution plans. Be wary of those who are not experienced in disaster relief assistance."

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