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To give to Haiti relief, look no further than your church

On Tuesday, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 struck the small country of Haiti. As of Friday, government estimates had the death toll at more than 50,000, and it is expected to get close to 100,000.

Many of Haiti’s 3 million people have no access to food, water, shelter and electricity. Many of them are homeless. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the World Food Programme is feeding 8,000 people several times a day, detailing the need for food, water, tents, medical supplies and heavy lifting equipment.

It is only natural for people to want to help. Here in Demopolis, there are several ways to provide help being made available to people through the American Red Cross and through our local churches.

The American Red Cross is sponsoring a community event at the Theo Ratliff Activity Center on Monday, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The event will still include the 3-on-3 basketball tournament and community seminars, with proceeds benefitting the Marengo County disaster relief fund. That has expanded to allow people to donate to the Red Cross to help the earthquake victims in Haiti.

“The American Red Cross is specific about how the check needs to be,” said Jakki Caldwell-Phillips, the executive director of the Black Belt American Red Cross. “We need to have everything going to the International Red Cross, and on the memo line, it needs to say, ‘Haiti relief.’

“This is something that the national Red Cross headquarters is doing. Initially, the Red Cross made a contribution of $2 million, but now, we have pledged $1 million toward the response effort in Haiti. We will need donations to help make that pledge a reality.

“We are asking the local churches that are able to make donations to come on Monday to the Theo Ratliff Center,” she said. “It is a fund-raiser for local disaster relief, but they can come and make a donation for the Haiti relief efforts.”

Churches were also encouraged to provide teams for the 3-on-3 basketball tournament when the event was announced earlier this month.

Caldwell-Phillips said the invitation to donate to help with Haiti’s relief fund is not limited to churches. Any organization or individual is asked to come to the Theo Ratliff Activity Center to make a donation.

People wishing to make donations to the American Red Cross International Response Fund — which is used to respond to disasters such as the Haiti earthquake — may make a donation via 1-800-REDCROSS or redcross.org.

Many churches across Demopolis have said they plan to begin a relief effort with their congregations. Those who want to give to the Haiti relief fund through their churches should contact their ministers or church leaders.

Helping those in need is something that comes naturally to us as human beings.

Those who want to help the relief effort in Haiti have several venues to do so, whether it is through the Red Cross at the Theo Ratliff Activity Center on Monday or through their own churches.