It’s been more than three weeks since a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, and during that time people in the United States and across the globe have been energetically raising money and collecting food, medical supplies, clothing and other needed items. Here in DeKalb County, schools, churches, community organizations—even the Sheriff’s Office and the Atlanta Braves—have been a part of the effort.
Among the first to swing into action was the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Thomas Brown’s $1,000 personal donation toward the “grassroots style” Haiti disaster relief drive set the stage for rallying employee volunteers. It also jump started public donations totaling $12,000 in less than two days.
The afternoon of Jan. 15, employee volunteers with some assistance from inmate trusties set up a makeshift donation station consisting of a couple of tables, a tent on loan from Wages and Sons Funeral Homes, a few chairs and a large red and blue sign with the words “Haiti Relief Effort – Monetary Donations Accepted Here,” on the Memorial Drive side of the Sheriff’s Office headquarters building.
In response, many motorists dropped cash into the volunteers’ buckets and boxes.
“I want to do what I can to help,” one motorist told volunteer and mail center employee Gay Nell McCray as he reached into his pocket and pulled out five $20 bills to drop into her box.
“This was truly a roll up your sleeve, dig into your pockets and do whatever you can philanthropic event,” Brown said. “And that is what the people did. Along with green currency, we collected 640 quarters, 400 dimes, 180 nickels and 6,100 pennies. I am simply grateful that people care about others. I was absolutely touched by the support from the public and from Sheriff’s Office employees, some of whom brought their spouses and children to help in this most worthy endeavor.”
Volunteer Christopher Maxwell, who works in the agency’s Information Systems Unit, brought his sons, Elijah, 11, and Khalil, 10. “I brought them out to introduce them to the idea that life is about giving back, about giving to others and supporting those who are less fortunate,” said Maxwell who added that his sons have watched some of the media coverage on the Haiti disaster. “I want them to understand that when you witness the plight of others, in comparison your own problems seem very small.”
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta raised $7,547 in a record-breaking plate collection for Haitian relief at services on Sunday, Jan. 17. The money was collected as part of a campaign in UU congregations throughout the Unitarian Universalist Association, which along with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee had raised $387,621 as of Jan. 19 for Haitian relief efforts. The church is located at 1911 Cliff Valley Way.
Elizabeth Juarez, senior class president at Lithonia High School, reported that a two-day fundraising blitz Jan. 21 and 22 at the school netted more than twice the students’ original goal. “All monies will be donated to the American Red Cross, which will send them to Haiti,” Juarez said. “Our goal was $500. So the first day we did great; we collected about $400. Our second and final day with the money from the previous day we had collected $1,297. We not only exceeded our goal, but we are so happy and proud with our school.”
Several Atlanta Braves players and staff spent two hours packing medical supplies at Med Share in Decatur on Feb. 1. The Braves contingent packed 197 boxes containing 893 pounds of medical supplies.
“They packed masks, surgical gloves and caps, orthopedic equipment and crutches,” said Holly Frew, director of public relations for Med Share. “The needs (in Haiti) are more specialized now since many of the survivors have had surgeries and amputations.”
All the Braves personnel signed a large banner that was to be attached to the shipment. Med Share has sent 10 large shipments of medical supplies to Haiti since the earthquake.