Charlatans mar Haitian relief

Published 11:03 pm Friday, January 22, 2010

We have always believed that when our community, our nation or our world experiences tremendous tragedy, the best amongst us shine. When we are out our lowest, we often find the strength to be truly generous with the help we provide our neighbors.

Such has been the case with the tragedy in Haiti.

But, while it is true that the differences that separate us often fade away in times of need, such situations far too often expose the worst in us.


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Such has been the case with the tragedy in Haiti.

It is a sad commentary on our society when charitable organizations must prove their validity before we feel comfortable making a donation to their Haitian relief efforts. It is a sad commentary when charities must state that they are a “trusted” way to help those in need.

What we have lost in this time of Internet and telephone scams is the ability to fully trust those who come calling for our donations. In this time of fraudulent fundraisers and opportunistic leaches, we have grown skeptical of those asking us to contribute.

Even in the ruins of Port-Au-Prince, the leveled capital of Haiti, there are reports of those withholding needed fuel, water and food, simply waiting for the need to get so deep that those with the ability to do so will pay any price to get it.

How can we ever feel comfortable making a donation when we worry that it will go to those who need it most?

But even in this time of uncertainty, we as a people have stood up and given. We have given generously and given often. Even local businesses have donated tons of food, given thousands of dollars and led efforts to support other charitable efforts.

Local churches have seen tremendous response from their congregations when raising money and needed items to send to missionaries in Haiti. And trusted organizations such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and others have been flooded with donations, giving them the ability to respond quickly to the disaster.

There are those out there who feel they can take advantage of us in times of need. There are those among us who feel this is a moment to advance their wealth rather than lift up their fellow man.

But even though there are those small few who scam, cheat and lie, thankfully there are far more who have the heart, soul and passion to do the right thing. And that is the strongest commentary we can say about us as a community, as a country and as a people.