The best earthquake relief is of the $$$ kind

January 21, 2010

Barring the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and other mortal, natural disasters, nothing tops the destruction of the two earthquakes last week that have all but leveled Port-au-Prince in Haiti, leaving thousands dead, and thousands more in need of relief.

According to data from the American Red Cross, relief distributions are being meted out for 60,000 families — that’s over a quarter million people, to their estimates — in the form of 77 tons of relief. Food, medical supplies, clothing, shelter.

Why in the hell, then, would anybody with a modicum of common sense be daft enough to send a mink coat, high heeled shoes, or an evening gown to the relief effort?

This article says it’s happening:

Apparently, some people think that luxury goods are the best remedy for dealing with a fatal disaster. And the Red Cross, already strapped in time and manpower, must use more energy to sort out the inappropriate donations from the good.

Some of the good donations aren’t even that good. Those old tins of salmon sitting in the back of one’s cupboard won’t do good for the malnourished victim trapped under rubble for five days on end.

Some Americans, says the article, have even showed up unannounced in Haiti, without transportation or resources, and official rescue workers have had to accommodate these do-gooders, taking away from the relief effort at hand.

No, they’re not ungrateful for the kind intentions. But it’s like receiving that loud sweater for Christmas you’ll never wear when you could do so much better with a gift certificate. The best relief effort is by reaching into one’s wallet and sending money; the Red Cross can best figure out where the funds should be allotted.

The local branch of the Red Cross in Ventura County is in Camarillo and currently accepting donations in all denominations.

Checks can be sent to the American Red Cross, Haiti Relief, P.O. Box 608, Camarillo, CA, 93011, or online at http://www.arcventura. org; click on “International Fund.”


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