Friday, January 15, 2010
Skip the pants and bottled water . . .
. . . send money. OK, so that sounds harsh, but it is the most immediate and practical way to offer assistance during a major disaster like the earthquake in Haiti. I know writing a check to a charity is not nearly as appealing as collecting clothing, food and water from friends and neighbors. Donors can picture a grateful survivor opening that can of peaches or putting on that donated blouse. Nice image, but totally unrealistic during the first critical hours and days following a disaster. Whether it's a house fire or a major earthquake, the priorities are rescuing survivors, providing medical care and shelter. Clean drinking water is a close second. In short, monetary donations can be used immediately to respond to the most critical needs as they arise. For all we well-intentioned spectators know, gauze and antibiotics might be crucial needs today. Tomorrow, it might be tents and blankets and disposable diapers. The next day it might be body bags for the dead. Budgeting donor dollars is a sacred trust for charities. They must get the biggest bang for their buck. It is far more cost effective and expedient to purchase supplies in unaffected areas of a country or at least within the region. Not only is that a quicker, less costly way to help, it is culturally sensitive to the victims and helps their national economy at the same time. While heart-warming, it was also heart-breaking watching reports about school kids collecting clothing, food and water for Haitian earthquake survivors. Their best intentions cannot help at this point nor, perhaps, even in the near future. It may take months to ship and distribute what those children collected. While I applaud their effort and sincerity, I wish they'd had better guidance on ways they could help. Emotions, understandably, so often over rule practicality at a time like this. There are people right here in our region who need the clothing, food and bottled water. Perhaps these children might give their generous donation of supplies to needy folks here in honor of the Haitian Earthquake Survivors. Their good deed will be rewarded and the supplies put to good use. Just and idea . . . Confession: I worked for the American Red Cross, one of many reputable non-profits providing aid to Haiti.