Edmontonians dig deep for Haiti relief

The phone kept ringing and the door kept swinging at the Edmonton RedCross office over the weekend, proof that Edmontonians are digging deepto help earthquake-ravaged Haitians survive.

The phone kept ringing and the door kept swinging at the Edmonton Red Cross office over the weekend, proof that Edmontonians are digging deep to help earthquake-ravaged Haitians survive.

“Particularly, in these times, it’s hard for people to find spare cash,” Canadian Red Cross disaster-management volunteer Jackie Specken said. “The fact Edmontonians are contributing the way that they are is an indication this is important to them.”

Officials decided to extend local office hours through the weekend as cash continued to flow in, days after the 7.0-magnitude quake decimated the already-impoverished island nation.

In five days, $22 million was donated to the Canadian Red Cross nationally.

Individual local contributions have ranged between $1 and $500,000, Specken said, adding, “It’s not how much people donate, it’s the fact that they do.”

The charity has set a lofty goal of $105 million to support 300,000 people for three years.

The federal government is responding in kind, matching every dollar up to $50 million.

Money is pumped directly into the disaster zone, and will become food, clothing and temporary shelter for displaced Haitians until crumbled infrastructure can be rebuilt.

“This is a long-term catastrophe. This isn’t something we’ll be able to fix in six months. It’s going to take a long, long time,” Specken said.

At home, Edmontonians are largely helping however they can, Red Cross volunteers said yesterday.

A team of new helpers offered their time to the organization once disaster struck, some walking in off the street ready to work.

“It helps us to realize just how good we have it,” Specken said.

“Understanding we don’t really have it so bad is a big part of it.”

 
 
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