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How to Help: from Santa Cruz to Haiti

haiti_dirtAs you probably know, a massive earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, affecting about three million people (a third of Haiti’s population). Food, water, and medical services are desperately needed in Haiti. A number of relief organizations are trying to provide these things. If you are wondering what you can do to help, you might consider attending a local benefit (or holding your own!) or donating to one of the organizations listed below. Please contact news editor Elizabeth Limbach ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) with additional local efforts, as we hope to continue updating the list as opportunities arise.

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In Santa Cruz:

For those who like to party for a good cause, local Burning Man-esque party-thrower Raindance Presents is hosting a benefit this Saturday, Jan. 16 for the Earthquake Relief Fund. Proceeds will be donated through Oxfam. The event will be held at the Cypress Lounge (120 Union St., Santa Cruz), and feature The Flying Skulls and local DJs Little John, Cool Hand Luke and Zoz. Doors open at 9 p.m, 21 and up, $5 before 10pm and $10 after.

The American Red Cross

The American National Red Cross is contributing $10 million from its International Response Fund to support the Haiti relief operation, and is shipping tarps, mosquito nets and cooking sets from its warehouse in Panama. In addition to Red Cross staff already in Haiti, additional disaster management specialists are being deployed to the disaster zone to help coordinate relief efforts.

To help, people in Santa Cruz County can make a donation to the International Response Fund online or via phone. The public can also help by texting "Haiti" to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross. The charge will appear on their cell phone bill.  To get updated information or to make a financial donation to support Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti, please contact: American Red Cross, Santa Cruz County Chapter: 831-462-2881 or sccredcross.org, or American Red Cross Silicon Valley Chapter (Santa Clara County): 1-877-727-6771 or siliconvalley-redcross.org.

National/International

Direct Relief International

Direct Relief is a Santa Barbara, California-based nonprofit organization focused on improving quality of life by bringing critically needed medicines and supplies to local healthcare providers worldwide. Direct Relief’s partners in Haiti include Partners in Health, St. Damien Children’s Hospital, the Visitation Hospital, Christian Aid Ministries, and Feed the Children. As partners' needs become clear, additional emergency aid will be delivered as soon as possible.

To assist survivors, the organization’s emergency response team is arranging an emergency airlift containing over $2 million in medicines and medical supplies that will depart Friday, Jan. 15. The aid consignment departing Friday (including materials for trauma and wound care, broad-spectrum antibiotics, and water-purification products) is for the emergency medical response efforts being conducted by Partners in Health, which has set up a temporary headquarters in the main hospital in Port-au-Prince, and has committed additional staff to the relief effort. Funds will also go to St. Damien Children’s Hospital, which sustained damage to its building but is continuing to treat trauma cases. Donations can be made to Direct Relief International by phone (1-800-676-1638 or 805-964-4767) or online (directrelief.org/SupportUs.aspx). Donations can also be made directly to Partners in Health on their website, pih.org/youcando/donate.html.

UNICEF

UNICEF provides children with healthcare, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more. UNICEF is rushing life-saving supplies into the hardest-hit communities in Haiti. UNICEF's response, coordinated with other UN agencies and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent is aimed at the children and women, who are the most vulnerable in times of crisis. Children under 18 make up nearly 50 percent of the 10 million population of Haiti.

UNICEF has released a total of $3.4 million toward the relief efforts from several emergency sources.  More funding is needed to provide basic medical and health supplies; family kits/shelter and water hygiene and sanitation supplies are urgently needed. To donate to the ongoing emergency relief efforts in Haiti and the Caribbean region, visit unicefusa.org/haitiquake or call 1-800-4UNICEF.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

MSF has already treated more than 1,000 people on the ground in Haiti following Tuesday's earthquake, but the need is still huge. MSF medical teams in Port-au-Prince are treating large numbers of people who suffered fractures, head injuries and other major trauma. MSF uses inflatable hospitals to provide critical medical care in disaster areas.

An inflatable MSF field hospital, equipped with two operating theatres, is expected to arrive by air in the next 24 hours. Crucial personnel, including surgeons and anesthetists, and supplementary stocks of medical supplies are on the way as well. While MSF is sending up to 80 additional staff members to reinforce the ongoing efforts to provide emergency care for those who need it, the organization remains concerned about our staff in Port-au-Prince. As of yet, the teams on the ground have not been able to confirm the whereabouts of all their Haitian staff. Donations to MSF can be made by phone (1-888-392-0392) or on their website (doctorswithoutborders.org/donate/?ref=main-menu).

The World Food Programme

The World Food Programme is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. In emergencies, they get food to where it is needed, saving the lives of victims of war, civil conflict and natural disasters. After the cause of an emergency has passed, we use food to help communities rebuild their shattered lives. The people of Haiti need food assistance as quickly as possible to prevent hunger worsening the misery already caused by the disaster. Donations can be made on their website, wfp.org/donate/Haiti.

Save the Children

Save the Children, on organization whose mission is to create lasting change in the lives of children in need in the United States and around the world, is sending teams out this morning by motorbike from its offices in Port-au-Prince and is flying in additional staff to help support the emergency response. Save the Children is preparing to provide immediate lifesaving assistance, such as food, water, shelter and child-friendly spaces. It has verified the safety of all but 16 staff members in its main office. Donations can be made to Save the Children on their website, savethechildren.org.

Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps has a long history of helping earthquake survivors meet their immediate needs and recover what they've lost. They’ve aided families after earthquakes in Peru in 2007, China and Pakistan in 2008, and Indonesia last year. Now they have deployed an experienced emergency team to rush critical supplies and other urgent assistance to survivors in Haiti. They have also established a Haiti Earthquake Fund. Donations can be made on their website, mercycorps.org, or by clicking the Haiti Earthquake link on Amazon.com’s homepage.

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