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a child in haiti waves to rescue workers A child waves to relief workers from Save the Children as they disperse water and other supplies to earthquake victims. (Photo: Adriana Zehbrauskas/Polaris for Save the Children)

Tips on How to Give Wisely

Save the Children sends supplies and information on how best to help in Haiti

By Nick Berray | January 20 , 2010

Save the Children has been helping the people of Haiti for more than 30 years, so it was able to provide aid immediately last week when disaster struck. It was also able to provide some much needed information on how to give wisely to best help the earthquakes victims in Haiti.

"We were positioned to give out emergency kits that we have made up," said Kathy Connolly, who is Senior Director for Resource Development of Save the Children. These kits contain emergency cooking supplies, hygienic items, and shelter supplies. The non-profit is also helping to distribute medication.

"Right now the greatest immediate needs for the children are for food, water, and shelter," Connolly said. Another goal for Save the Children is to make sure that children separated from their families are safe.

Later, clothing and other bulky items will be needed, but at the moment the critical need is money to buy food, water, and medicines.

How to Give Wisely

Save the Children only accepts donations of money. Funds are used to purchase supplies from nearby locations, which eliminates high shipping costs and strengthens the regional economy.

In the case of Haiti, supplies can be purchased and brought in from the Dominican Republic, which shares Hispanola Island with Haiti. The Dominican Republic was not affected by the earthquake that flattened the capital city of Haiti.

When deciding to donate to such a needy cause, it is important to know where your money is going, according to Save the Children.

"Don't give impulsively," reads a tip sheet on the organization's web site. Save the Children recommends that contributors look to charity watchdog groups like Charity Navigator, Guidestar, and the American Institute of Philanthropy to decide which organization will make best use of their money.

The watchdog groups rate organizations by the percentage of money that goes directly into programs rather than to pay administration costs. Save the Children is highly rated for using 92 per cent of its donations on aid programs.

Learning about the problem at hand is also an important part of giving and helping, said Connolly

"Reading and learning about what is going on, and talking to others about it, is a great start," she said. "Kids and schools can also hold fundraisers to help raise money to help those in need right now. The Save the Children web site has school fundraising kits that help you get started."

Relief efforts are expected to continue for months, even years, Connolly said.

"How long typically depends on the scale of the emergency and the capacity of the country to react to the crisis," she told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

The needs of children in Haiti will evolve over time, Connolly explained. Later on, efforts will include things like helping to set up schools.

For more information on Save the Children, check out the organization's website.

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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