Helping Haiti

Published 11:21 pm Friday, January 15, 2010

A text-to-donate effort by the American Red Cross had generated more than $9 million for Haiti earthquake relief as of Friday afternoon, said Suffolk chapter development director Ashley Greene.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” Greene said Friday. “It’s been greatly effective and just amazing.”

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck about 10 miles from Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, on Tuesday, leaving thousands dead and many more injured or homeless. The country’s infrastructure, including its airport and water ports, also was severely damaged, crippling efforts to get relief workers and supplies into the country.

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The American Red Cross’s top priorities at this point are food, water, shelter, medical supplies and emotional support, Greene said. The most effective way for Suffolk residents to help is with donations of money, she added. The American Red Cross has raised more than $37 million through phone, Internet and text donations since the earthquake, Greene said.

“That money is going to these relief efforts in Haiti,” Greene said. “More than half has been on line. is the best vehicle for getting these funds.”

Greene stressed that money raised so far is just “a drop in the bucket” compared to the immediate and long-term needs for the country.

People who want to donate $10 can text “Haiti” to 90999. A confirmation text will be sent back, asking the donor to confirm they intend to donate $10 to the Red Cross’s Haiti efforts. A reply of “Yes” will complete the transaction. A final message from the Red Cross will thank the donor, and ask if they want to receive text-message updates on the relief efforts. Another “Yes” reply will add that user’s number to the list, but those who do not want to receive the updates do not have to do anything. The $10 will be applied to the user’s cell phone bill.

People can donate by texting the number two or three times, depending on their cell phone carrier. Those who wish to donate more can visit

“It does go straight to Haiti,” Greene said. About 91 cents from every dollar is used for relief efforts, with the remainder going to overhead costs.

The Red Cross is not accepting donations of food, clothing or other in-kind donations, for a number of reasons, Greene said.

“The most effective way to help those affected in Haiti right now is with dollars,” Greene said. “The dollars are the only thing we can turn into long-term relief. This is not going to be ‘clean up the rubble and go home.’”

The Red Cross also has been providing blood products in conjunction with the U.S. Navy, Greene said.

For people who are looking for friends and relatives in Haiti, the Red Cross is assisting, Greene said. People looking for American citizens should contact the State Department at When e-mailing, people should provide as much information as possible, including name, description, passport information, last known location in Haiti and any other information possible.

People looking for Haitian citizens, however, can get help from the International Committee of Red Cross. That Web site is

For additional information, visit the Red Cross Web site or call 539-6645 for the local office.