U.S. Rushes to Earthquake Victims
Relief efforts for Haiti begin locally and nationally
More than 3,242 miles and an entire continent separate the small country of Haiti and Sacramento, California. But people in the Golden State's capital immediately geared up to send help to the poorest country in the northern hemisphere when it was struck by a 7.0 earthquake on Tuesday.
"People are reaching deep down and giving what they can," said Tanya Davis, the Christian Service Director at St. Francis High School in Sacramento.
The school is holding a "free dress" fundraiser, where students donate money and get to wear regular clothes, rather than their uniforms, to school one day.
One of the students at St. Francis has family in Haiti. She spoke at an assembly where she admitted that she is worried, but is still living up to what her family said briefly in a phone call to the U.S. after the quake hit: "We don't need tears, we need prayers," she said. The school is hoping to raise more than $5,000 to help families in Haiti.
Haiti is an impoverished island, with little money for help or services. The 7.0 quake devastated the entire country, even crumbling its National Palace in the capital city of Port-au-Prince.
More than 2 million people will need food aid, according to the UN's World Food Program. So far only a few thousand have been able to get aid because of transportation and infrastructure damage.
In Port-au-Prince, 30 per cent of the buildings were damaged. In other areas, more than 50 per cent of the buildings were damaged or destroyed. The U.S. is sending 10,000 troops immediately to help restore order and distribute food.
"I've directed my administration to launch a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives and support the recovery in Haiti," President Obama said on Thursday. "This is one of those moments that calls out for American leadership."
The Red Cross has also jumped into action on both the local and national levels.
"We are facilitating information to people," said Trista Jensen of the Sacramento Sierra Red Cross. They will also be helping with financial donations and other food and water donations.
The Red Cross is recommending that people give financially to help the most, and says that people should not try to go to Haiti and help on their own.
"We're just asking people to be generous," said Sharol Josephson of Bayside Church in Granite Bay, California. Bayside Church will be donating 10 per cent of its Radical Generosity Fund to the relief efforts in Haiti. Bayside was one of the first churches to start a fund for Haiti relief.
As efforts move from rescue to recovery, schools, churches, and other organizations throughout the U.S. will begin to raise money and other donations to send to Haiti.
Scholastic Kid Reporters are covering relief efforts in their areas and will be sending in stories over the next two weeks. Check back often to find out what's going on around the country to help the people of Haiti.
For background on the country of Haiti, check out this article from The New Book of Knowledge, Grolier Online.
You can find also the history of Haiti and its people in this article, also from The New Book of Knowledge.
CRISIS IN HAITI
Check out the Kid Reporters' special report Crisis in Haiti for more information on the country and how to help.
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Daniel Wetter is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.