By Ryan Gueningsman, with assistance from Jan Johnson
DELANO, MN A number of local churches and organizations are stepping up to help out victims of the recent earthquake that devastated Haiti.
Late last week, the Delano Clergy Ministerium donated $200 to Catholic Relief Services in Haiti.
Here are what some others are doing to help raise awareness for earthquake victims.
Delano United Methodist Church
Members of Delano United Methodist Church‘s special offering was sent to UMCOR (The United Methodist Church on Relief).
DUMC’s United Methodist Women also sent a sizable check immediately to UMCOR after learning of the earthquake.
The Rev. Dr. Sam Dixon, head of the humanitarian relief agency of the United Methodist Church, died before he could be rescued from the rubble of a hotel destroyed by the earthquake.
Dixon and two others from the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries had gone to the Hotel Montana to meet colleagues from other agencies to plan improved health services in the western hemisphere’s poorest country. His colleagues, the Rev. Clint Rabb and the Rev. James Gulley, were rescued.
Rabb, 60, a leader in the United Methodist Church’s extensive mission volunteer program, died Jan. 17 in a Florida hospital of injuries sustained when he was trapped for 55 hours in the ruins of Hotel Montana.
Pastor Matt Sipe of Delano United Methodist Church said donors may contribute by mailing a check to UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Memo: Advance #418325” Haiti relief.
He noted 100 percent of the money sent will go to Haiti relief.
People may also give online at www.umcor.org. The American Institute of Philanthropy, a charity watchdog group, gave UMCOR an A+ rating for its Haiti recovery ministry for its accountability and efficient use of donations, according to DUMC.
Lyndale Lutheran Church
Pastor Gale Reitan told of Lyndale Lutheran Church (Maple Plain) participating in packaging food Jan. 16 at Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley.
Caring persons of all ages helped package 40,000 specially formulated meals for “Feed My Starving Children.”
The million-meal difference was planned long before the Haiti earthquake occurred and was designated for Haiti. FMSC’s MannaPackTM Rice meals provide the key nutrients a starving child needs to survive and thrive, and are distributed through various community settings: orphanages, schools, clinics, refugee camps and nutrition programs.
Volunteers pack 100 percent of the food, with each meal costing only 17 cents to produce. With 94 percent of total FMSC donations going directly to its feeding program, donations of all amounts go a long way in fighting hunger. Visit www.fmsc.org to donate or for more information.
Congregants are also donating money to ELCA International Disaster Response, designated for Haiti Earthquake Relief, which will be used entirely100 percent for immediate relief and ongoing recovery efforts, according to Reitan.
Checks can be mailed to: ELCA Disaster Response, PO Box 71764, Chicago, IL 60694-1764 Memo: Haiti Earthquake Relief IDG0059.
Light of Christ Lutheran Church
Light of Christ Lutheran Church heeded ELCA Disaster Response’s call for immediate financial gifts.
The money designated for Haiti Earthquake Relief will be used entirely 100 percent for immediate relief and ongoing recovery efforts.
“Your prayers and generous gifts will make a life-saving difference,” said Pastor Lee Hallstrom, who asked that if you haven’t, please give today. Send a check directly to: ELCA Disaster Response, PO Box 71764, Chicago, IL 60694-1764 Memo: Haiti Earthquake Relief IDG0059.
St. Paul’s United Church of Christ
St. Paul’s United Church of Christ is working with One Great Hour of Sharing to provide Haiti Relief.
Rev. Richard Flynn said the UCC will be working in Haiti for many years to come, long after the media spotlight has turned elsewhere.
National UCC funds are already flowing to mission partners in Haiti, including support for relief kits organized by Church World Service and funds for medicine and supplies for area clinics provided by Interchurch Medical Assistance.
Delano Catholic Community
The Delano Catholic Community parishioners have donated to Catholic Relief Services, 226 Summit Ave., St. Paul, MN 55102, memo: Haiti Relief.
Nationally, on the ground, CRS (CRS) is working with partners from Caritas, the international Catholic Aid Network, to coordinate their aid response.
The agency is also joining most aid groups in working with the United Nations as it becomes functional following the destruction of its Haiti headquarters and the death of many of its workers in the 7.0 magnitude quake.
CRS has formed six medical teams each consisting of a medical doctor and a nurse to provide primary care at several sites where people have gone for shelter. At one site, an AIDSRelief doctor began providing care on his own.
When CRS staff discovered this, they made plans to get him medical supplies.
CRS trucks coming from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republican brought in enough food for 2,500 people for several days, as well as hygiene kits and plastic sheeting for shelter.
CRS has been distributing such materials at several informal camps and other places where the homeless gathered after the earthquake.
Donating via text message
In the wake of the earthquake disaster in Haiti, Americans are donating via text message more than ever before.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Minnesota and North Dakota advises donors that giving through text can be a safe and easy way to give but one should still use caution.
Within days following the disaster in Haiti, it was widely reported that more than $3 million was donated through text message to such organizations as the Red Cross and others.
“It’s encouraging that people are making small donations through text messages,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “An incredible amount of money will be needed to address the crisis in Haiti, and charities will certainly welcome gifts made through any means available. However, donors should still do their due diligence to make sure their money is going to trustworthy charities.”
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance (www.give.org) offers the following tips on giving through text messages:
• Confirm the number directly with the source.
While the BBB has not yet heard of any scams relying on text message donations, this emerging method for donating is ripe for exploitation by scammers.
However, two texting donation methods which have been confirmed are: by texting ‘Haiti’ to 90999, a $10 donation will be made to the American Red Cross; and by texting ‘Yele’ to 501501, a $5 donation will be made to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund (www.yele.org).
In each case, donors will be billed by their cell phone carrier for the amount of their donation.
• Be aware that text donations are not immediate.
Depending on the text message service used by the charity, text donations can take anywhere from 30-90 days to be transferred to the designated charity.
If you would like the donation to be received immediately by the charity, you can give online through the charity web site, by calling the charity directly or by sending a check in the mail.
• Review the fine print. When you give to a charity through text message, you might also be signing yourself up to receive text message updates from the charity in the future.
A charity should include the details of its text campaign on its web site so you can see what you’re signing up for and how you can opt out.
• Research the charity. Giving wisely to a charity isn’t just about making sure that the solicitation isn’t coming from scammers.
Wise donors make sure their donations are going to charities that are best equipped to help in the relief efforts and will responsibly use the money for its intended purpose.
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance has compiled a list of charities which are seeking to provide assistance in response to the earthquake in Haiti and meet BBB Standards for Charity Accountability at http://www.bbb.org/us/haiti-earthquake-relief/
The mission of the Better Business Bureau is to promote, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill public confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, protect and assist the general public.
Contact the BBB at www.thefirstbbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.