Friday 15 January 2010

How to Help Haiti Without Being Anderson Cooper

For a while now, I've had a deep adoration of CNN's Anderson Cooper.

The past few days, he has been traveling around Port-au-Prince, flying in a helicopter above the city, going to make-shift hospitals, watching people bury loved ones in mass graves and unorganized cemeteries, picking through the mass chaos in the aftermath of Tuesday's devastating earthquake.

I know this because for the past few days, I have been sitting, injured, in my house watching him, while periodically checking Twitter and drinking gallons of green tea... feeling useless.

We can't all be Mr. Cooper, who I'm quite sure has not slept since Tuesday, or Dr. Sanjay Gupta, treating infant's head wounds on live TV. But it's not very hard to lend a hand in this crisis.

Some genius, taking into consideration Americans hot love affair with text-messaging, came up with the idea to link texting and philanthropy:
  • Text "Yele" to 501501 to donate $5 to Haitian musician Wyclef Jean's charity
  • Text "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross
Both will charge to your cell phone bill. It literally takes a few seconds. Or 5 minutes, if you're technologically challenged like my parents...

If you're looking to donate online, try:
Be sure to check out the organization first though, don't get caught by a scam. Donate only to organizations you are familiar with, and make sure it's them.

That evil, life-possessing game of Farmville is now also allowing users to donating to Haiti, along with Mafia Wars. Despite my previous blog about the evils of online games, Farmville has now been (at least temporarily) redeemed in my eyes.

If you are one of those people that has an ipod, you can also donate through your iTunes.

If you're one of those people who would rather help with actions than just donating, well, you'll need to sit tight for a bit (unless you are also a Marine). The Red Cross is not accepting volunteers to travel to Haiti right now, as the place is already crowded and chaotic. Although it's early to think about, I think donating a Spring Break to volunteer in Haiti, helping to build it back up, might be a great thing college students could do to help, come March and April.

In the upcoming weeks I'm sure there will be many food, clothing, and supply drives. UAlbany students can check out what the school's Haitian Student Association is doing to help here.

On CNN tonight, Anderson Cooper will be reporting live from Port-au-Prince at 10pm, check it out, and see what's really going on; it's really something to watch, and not just because I love Anderson Cooper.

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