Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Hand for Haiti

It has been nearly three weeks since the devastating earthquake in Haiti, and the need for international support and aid is still incredibly urgent. While over $528 million has been donated to 40 U.S. non-profit organizations and an army of volunteers have teamed up to help, there is still much more to be done, and the long road to recovery is just beginning.

As one of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest countries, Haiti suffered utter destruction and devastation on January 12, 2010 when a record 7.0 earthquake ravaged the small country. Haitians helplessly watched as their hospitals crumbled, their homes burned, their capital city turned to rubble, and found loved ones and livelihoods lost.

People all over the world have been volunteering and doing what they can to help the victims of Haiti, whether it be donating $10 via text message, or volunteering for organizations that are putting together food, medical supplies, and other important tools for survival. The immediate outpouring of support has been incredible; now it is important that this commitment continues as the news of the earthquake fades from the headlines.

Fortunately, a wealth of different organizations, along with the help of compassionate people around the world, have rallied together to provide the people of Haiti with the resources they need to survive.

The support Haiti has received from around the world has inspired youth across the globe, and young people are finding different ways to get involved and do their part to help Haiti in the recovery effort. With half the world’s population under the age of 25, the youth population is a massive resource to tap into and provide help for those in need. A number of organizations have reached out to youth, encouraging their participation and giving them the outlet to unite and make a real difference.

Here are some examples of how organizations are connecting with youth and encouraging them to get involved in helping the victims of the Haiti earthquake:

Youth Service America (YSA) – Posted a message on their website encouraging youth to share their service ideas with friends, teachers, parents, and others in their community.

• “Get Ur Good On” – Miley Cyrus posted a video on the YSA’s Get Ur Good On website asking youth to “Get Their Good On for Haiti,” and post what they have done to help Haiti. Posts included making bracelets and selling them with proceeds donated to Haiti, donating money to UNICEF, and schools having “no-uniform” days and collected money.

Usher’s New Look –Usher and his foundation, Usher’s New Look, along with Powered by Service and the United Nations Foundation, announced a call to action for youth to raise $5 each to support Haiti relief. One Economy Corporation organized a “Youth Respond to Haiti Toolbox” for children and young adults to learn more about Haiti and ways to donate. These toolboxes can be embedded on websites to spread the word about youth service.

Youth Run 4 Haiti – Josh Duhamel and Red Cross Santa Monica organized a 2-mile Youth Run on January 23, 2010, to benefit the people of Haiti. Over 3,000 people attended, and all wore red to support the relief efforts.

The Big Help: Help Haiti – Nickelodeon set up a website to help kids reach out and help Haiti, offering tips on starting a fundraiser, or how to support a relief organization.

World Vision’s 30-hour Famine – On February 26th and 27th, U.S. teens will fast for 30 hours, drinking only water and juice while participating in local community service projects to create awareness and raise money for the child victims of Haiti. A portion of the funds raised will go directly to Haiti relief and recovery efforts.

Los Angeles Times – An op-ed proposed a youth volunteer corps in Haiti as a great opportunity to mobilize Haiti’s youth and begin the recovery process.

Do you have stories of youth participating in the relief efforts for Haiti? We would love to hear them! Please share your stories in the comments below.

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