In a genuine and generous humanitarian effort, Houston City Councilmember Jarvis Johnson of District B will deliver "800 pair of shoes for Haitian Relief efforts to the Haitian Multicultural Association" in Southwest Houston.
In a statement released by Johnson, he claims:
At this moment, thousands of our neighbors in Haiti are without shelter, searching for family and friends, and dealing with the emotional pains of a natural disaster. They are in great need of our assistance. Any gesture of kindness will go a long way toward rebuilding the lives of the people of Haiti. I will continue to work with fellow Houstonians in the coming weeks in efforts to assist Haiti.
Although this may seem like a compassionate and practical means of helping out, Johnson should reflect in the way he is attempting to help.
Houstonians should step up to the plate as Johnson proclaims ... but it should be done monetarily. Sending tangible items like shoes or, as Johnson states, "any gesture of kindness" is the last thing people should be doing to a region devastated by a natural disaster.
David Case of the GlobalPost notes:
If you're considering doing your part, that's great. But, experts say, whatever you do, don't donate anything but money. Under no circumstances should you mail care packages, toys, food or clothes. Don't even think about sending drugs. The response to prior disasters shows that regardless of your intentions, you will only be making matters worse.
While donations of goods are wonderful, it actually slows down the relief process as volunteers are directed to organize and store these items. The end result is that manpower is constrained in an emergency matter where every person counts.
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Think about it for a second ... Haiti just sustained severe damage to its infrastructure. Even if all the tangible donations that include shoes, clothes, medicine etcetera were to arrive and be stowed away properly, there would be no coherent or effective means of distributing these items. (We've put in messages to Johnson; we'll let you know if we get a response.)
If you truly want to help, please use established non-profit organizations. In times of need, scammers are on the prowl to take advantage of anyone's generosity.
You may use Direct Relief International or donate to the American Red Cross by using your cell phone to text the word "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10," and when prompted, hit "YES" to confirm the donation.
Update: Johnson spokesman Marc Campos says: "We were talking about Haiti last night at the headquarters when one of the volunteers told us that she and some friends had been collecting slightly used shoes to send to underdeveloped countries(shoes are needed in many underdeveloped nations) and offered them and so we decided Jarvis would deliver them. Why shoes when their infrastructure has collapsed? They are going to need shoes eventually and we also wanted to contribute to the awareness effort."