01/24/10 — Red Cross says donations are needed

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Red Cross says donations are needed

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 24, 2010 1:50 AM

Local groups and organizations are joining relief efforts for Haiti, but the bulk of the aid worldwide is being directed by the American Red Cross.

Chuck Waller, director of Wayne County Chapter of Red Cross, said earlier this week he has been inundated with calls requesting ways to help with the relief effort.

And in virtually all cases, his answer remains the same: The best possible donation is money.

"People want to donate in-kind -- food, water, clothes," he said. "Red Cross is only accepting financial contributions. We can convert the cash to whatever they need on the ground."

Others have asked to volunteer, but they, too, are discouraged from doing so, Waller said.

"For one thing, they have got a worldwide pool that have experience dealing with this type of thing," he explained. "They have got thousands on the grounds. Plus, there's a different set of training that goes with this. Those needs are still being met."

Blood donations are also being deferred to local chapters, but will go into the local blood supplies, Waller said.

"Red Cross has shipped blood to Haiti, but the blood needs are being met out of the current supply," he said. "(Anything collected) will go into the local blood supply. That will help here."

There are several ways financial donations can be made to the Red Cross effort, Waller said.

"They can be mailed in to the International Relief Fund; they can go online to www.redcross.org to make a secure online contribution; they can text 'haiti' to 90999 -- $10 contributions can be made that way; or if they want to stop by the office, they can drop off checks or mail them to 600 N. George St., Goldsboro, N.C. 27530," he said.

There is also a way to go online and see some of what is being done in Haiti by American Red Cross workers and volunteers, Waller said.

"We're delivering clean drinking water. We also have some that have put in place some purification systems for water. Outreach teams are treating individuals," he said. "They have already dropped 500 tons of supplies, and will continue to do that -- medical supplies, shelter supplies, kitchen sets."

Waller also said prepackaged meals have already been delivered to the world food program, and about 100 Red Cross Creole-speaking volunteers aboard the mobile naval hospital responded to translate for patients.

"The Florida chapter (of the Red Cross) is providing a variety of support services as citizens leave from Haiti to come to the U.S.," he added.

Right now, it's all about meeting basic needs -- food, shelter, emotional support, comfort and first aid, Waller said.

And while it's understandable that people stateside want to be helpful, there will be plenty of time for that, he said.

"The one thing that I would encourage folks to understand (is) it took about two or three minutes for this to happen, but it's going to take years to put it back like it was," he said. "Red Cross will be working with these entities long after these media have packed up and gone home. When the coverage is over, we will continue to be there."

One thing the Red Cross is planning in the near future is a telethon for eastern N.C. to raise money for the Haiti relief effort. Waller said details will be announced soon.

Meanwhile, several other efforts have surfaced in the area.

Wayne Community College Student Government Assoc-iation and Basic Skills Dream Team are spearheading a drive, selling lapel ribbons in the Haitian flag colors for a $1 donation. Ribbons are available in the student activities office or Basic Skills office.

Door ribbons also are available, which can be attached to metal or glass, for a minimum $5 donation.

Groups have requested ribbons be worn or displayed as long as possible, but especially on Monday, dubbed "Aid Haiti Day" at the college, said Tara Humphries, public information officer.

Money raised from the drive will be presented to local Red Cross officials, she said.

Wayne County Public Schools also are developing ideas for students to show compassion and support for victims of the earthquake.

Dillard Middle School organized a relief effort on Friday, collecting such items as paper products, non-perishable food, first aid, bandages and medical supplies, gently used clothes and shoes.

Sixth-grade language arts and social teacher Jamie Brill Smith, along with Stacy Shepard from the school, worked with students on the project.

"We would like the community and the school system to see Dillard in action, ready to help anyone in need," Mrs. Smith said. ."