Moore Oklahoma Tornado: Help them recover

image source: flickr
image source: flickr

On May 20, a massive tornado destroyed parts of Oklahoma City and Moore, Oklahoma, killing 24 people—including seven children. With your help, organizations like the Red Cross and Food Bank of Oklahoma provided immediate disaster relief to people affected.

As relief efforts continue, the recovery process begins. After a week, victims of the tornado are coming to grips with the loss of their homes, along with all their personal belongings. The twister caused up to $5 billion in insured damage, and 1,200 homes were completely destroyed.

While it could be easy to let this disaster fade in our minds as media coverage wanes, rebuilding will take quite awhile. This tornado flattened entire blocks of homes, two schools and a hospital. Imagine losing everything you own in a few short minutes—that’s exactly the reality many people face.

image source
image source: flickr

Help the children, families and the community of Moore, Oklahoma rebuild ”normal” life, and donate now to charities working for their recovery. As more information becomes available, we’ll continue to update this list:

  • Adopt a Classroom – helping teachers and students at Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary Schools rebuild their classrooms.
  • AmeriCares  assessing and addressing long term health needs.
  • Architecture for Humanity – working with local and regional construction professionals to support the rebuilding.
  • Habitat for Humanity – seeking help with long-term rebuilding efforts and aid for families who need safe, affordable places to live.
  • Matthew: 25 Ministries – continuing to support the families and people of Moore as long as it’s needed.
  • Operation Blessing International – working with The Home Depot to dispatch a construction unit, mobile command center, trucks with tools and supplies, and a team of construction foremen to Moore.
  • Operation USA – making small grants (as funds allow) to community-based organizations as they rebuild.
  • Samaritan’s Purse – focusing on cleaning and repairing damaged homes.
  • Save the Children – providing recovery support for children and families.
  • Team Rubicon – assisting with home repair and rebuilding.
image source: flickr
image source: flickr

This local tragedy stirs deep emotion

I’ve been having great difficulty dealing with the horror that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My kids are often in Sandy Hook for sports and other activities, and I have spent many weekends on the sidelines of the soccer fields directly behind the school.

Holiday AngelNewtown is almost identical to my town of Weston, Connecticut, so it is very hard for me to let go of the horror by rationalizing to myself that it is far away or such a different type of community than my own. This trauma is deeper for all of us because the reality is that this could have happened anywhere and to any of us. That is what is most profoundly frightening about this event.

I have a 7 year old who is always curious, and he came home from school on Friday asking a lot of questions. After asking all the main questions, he paused and asked, “How did the kids know what to do when their teacher died?” He was obviously putting himself directly into that situation. I am very sad he has to think about these things at such an early age. As he was going to bed that night he asked, “Does God make these bad people?” I had to explain that everyday, we all wake up and have to make many decisions that can make us “good” or “bad” for that moment.

Every night now when I put him to bed, I first get a chill of realization that he could have been in that 1st grade classroom, and then I give a grateful hug that he is still here to tuck in.

It is almost impossible to comprehend the depth of tragedy and anguish that will always be a part of the Newtown community. Life is so precious—and at the same time, it can be unfair and unpredictable.

While our hearts are broken for the victims and all of those affected by this senseless tragedy,  the healing process must begin. There are many nonprofits that are currently supporting the town with: cleaning up the old school, setting up the new school, providing health services to residents in the community, supporting the firefighters, supplying aid for the memorial services, and offering ongoing activities to help the kids heal. To find out more and how to help Newtown, here’s an article that gives several ways you can be supportive.

A few charities providing the community with services that you can donate to:

kindnessMy personal belief is that we all must put a little bit of goodness back into the world and do what we can to overcome the horror by being kind to those around us. In addition to helping Newtown directly, random acts of kindness should be part of our daily routine to spread goodness. More than something we do in response to Ann Curry’s tweet…something we make part of our everyday life.

—Kendall Webb, Executive Director

How You Can Help Flood Victims in Pakistan

Flooding in the district of Muzzafargarh
Photo Credit: Save the Children A family at a makeshift camp for persons displaced by the extensive flooding in Gujrat Town, district of Muzzafargarh...Intense flooding forced Akram and his extended family of 13 to leave their home on August 2nd. ..Those fleeing the flooding reported an estimated 200 houses washed away or destroyed by flooding. Most inhabitants of Gujrat earn a living through agriculture, farming Rice, Sugar and Cotton. No deaths were reported by the villagers however they estimate that 90% of the herd of cattle and goats have been lost to flooding. ..Within the makeshift camp children are suffering with diarrhea and skin complaints. There is no shelter, no sanitation, no access to clean water and no electricity. Most of the internally displaced people (IDP) sleep under the trees for shelter from the rain. They complain that they have received very little food and water, and only one one occasion had any access of medical supplies via a private donor...

With more than 5 million homeless and 1,600 people feared dead to date, the floods in Pakistan are becoming one of the worst in recorded history. One-fifth of the country is under water. The World Health Organization says that 46 of Pakistan’s 135 districts are affected by the flooding (an area close to the size of Italy). With the lack of clean water, urgent danger, and the specter of communicable diseases such as cholera threatening hundreds of thousands, help is urgently needed.

Nonprofits are hard at work to make a difference in Pakistan. Here’s how you can help:

  • Learn more about how charities are helping on the ground by following their blogs, photo blogs  or Facebook updates.
  • Donate now to help those nonprofits continue their relief work.

Nonprofit Response

  • Acumen Fund: The Acumen Fund supports innovative organizations working in Pakistan. They are an excellent resource to locate strong groups providing flood victims with much needed services.

Blog: http://blog.acumenfund.org/2010/08/13/the-pakistan-floods-how-you-can-help/

  • American Red Cross: The Pakistan Red Crescent has provided thousands of people with food packs, relief items and tents from its prepositioned supplies. The American Red Cross has committed an initial $100,000 to support their ongoing relief efforts for the most vulnerable populations, including women and children.

Blog: http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.1a019a978f421296e81ec89e43181aa0/?vgnextoid=c02a25d459d3a210VgnVCM10000089f0870aRCRD

  • CARE: CARE is supporting health teams, mobile clinics and the distribution of emergency supplies.

Blog: http://www.care-international.org/Featured-Articles/pakistan-read-the-blogs.html

  • Concern Worldwide US: So far, 5,700 families have been helped by Concern Worldwide’s emergency response in Pakistan.

Blog: http://www.concern.net/blogs/pakistan-floods-coverage

  • Doctors Without Borders: In addition to the scale-up of medical activities, teams continue to focus on providing affected families with basic items and safe drinking water in order to improve their living conditions and prevent the spread of diseases.

Blog: http://www.msf.org/msfinternational/countries/asia/pakistan/index.cfm

http://www.msf.org/msfinternational/invoke.cfm?objectid=84590B0A-15C5-F00A-25D2E0901B0886CD&component=toolkit.article&method=full_html

Plog: http://msf.ca/blogs/photos/2010/08/09/pakistan-7/

Blog: http://www.theirc.org/blog/where/pakistan

  • Islamic Relief USA: Islamic Relief USA launched a $2 million campaign to help the victims, and more than 500 Islamic Relief staff are on the ground distributing aid, conducting needs assessments and helping in the general relief effort.

Blog: http://blog.islamicreliefusa.org/

  • Operation USA: Through a network of local partner agencies, Operation USA is responding with critical medical aid, water purification tablets and shelter. Visit the website or Facebook for updates on their efforts in Pakistan.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Operation-USA/103370036602?ref=ts

  • Oxfam USA: Oxfam and its partners launched a rapid-relief effort to reach more than one million people with essential aid.

Blog: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-10898817

  • Save The Children: With programs in Pakistan for 30 years and the capacity to mount large-scale relief, Save the Children quickly deployed staff and launched a humanitarian response. They’ve provided assistance to more than 37,800 children and adults.

Blog: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/blogs/category/theme/pakistan-floods/

Plog: View a slideshow of images on MSN

  • US Fund for UNICEF: UNICEF teams have been delivering safe drinking water, critical medical supplies, supplementary food and family hygiene kits to more than a million people a day. In addition, UNICEF is supporting mobile medical teams, vaccination campaigns and sanitation efforts across the affected zone.

Blog: http://www.unicefusa.org/news/news-from-the-field/unicef-emergency-aid-arrives-pakistan.html

  • World Vision International: World Vision is providing emergency health services, distributing water, emergency food items, and supplies. They plan to reach 150,000 people over the next three months.

Blog: http://www.worldvision.org/content.nsf/about/emergency-presskit-pakistan?Open&lpos=lft_txt_Pakistan-Floods

Visit us on Facebook and share with your friends and family to help raise awareness and support so Pakistan families and children can recover.

Haiti Relief Update Part II – Nonprofits at Work

Charities creatively, consistently push on

Charities are working hard to provide shelter and guard against death and disease.

Organizations like Mercy Corps are taking creative approaches to solving the problems in Haiti. They teamed up with Mother Jones to help many of the small and medium-sized business that were lost in the earthquake by supporting Haitian entrepreneurs as they reopen their businesses and create much-needed jobs.

Partners In Health reports that last month, four health clinics in Port-au-Prince operated by their partner organization have surpassed 100,000 patient visits since they were first established. The clinics serve four large settlements of displaced survivors of the earthquake. PIH also posted a fascinating series of blogs from workers on the ground.

According to Doctors Without Borders, their teams continue to work to meet changing, but still major medical needsfrom approximately 20 sites and several mobile clinics. “More than one million people are still living in deplorable conditions, beneath tents or plastic sheeting,” says Stefano Zannini, MSF’s head of mission in Haiti. “In the meantime, the rains are intensifying, flooding the sites where earthquake victims live several times a week.”

The Red Cross raised the largest amount of funds for Haiti earthquake relief. On their update page (http://www.redcross.org/haiti) they have an interactive map that includes markers, photos and video where their network provided aid. These cumulative efforts were made possible by a combination of mobile teams and responders at fixed locations to provide drinking water, relief items, vaccinations and other medical assistance.

Ashoka Ashoka Fellow Daphne Nederhorst wrote about her experience on the ground finding local changemakers in Haiti in her post.

These and other nonprofits working in Haiti still need your help. You can still join the hundreds of individuals who have committed to our Rebuild Haiti Campaign and are leveraging our $25,000 match by becoming a monthly donor now.

Naples High School donors keeps raising money

Our friends at Naples High School STOP Club in Florida continue to raise funds for Haiti. A recent Concert for a Cause generated $2,500 to help fund their monthly donation through JustGive to Partners in Health. Nearly 500 people attended the fundraising event described by Club sponsor Cynthia Odierna as “magical.” It included:

  • More than 150 volunteers—a dozen student organizations, and nearly 15 local businesses and individuals providing everything from sound systems to food.
  • A program packed with talent–the Naples High chorus, solo performances, poetry readings, drum circles, and ethnic dance performances.
  • Booths that sold artwork, posters and calendars, and specially made t-shirts and bookmarks, with all proceeds benefiting the cause..

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Club co-president, Carmella Zabala, described the drum circle as so powerful that the crowd began dancing and chanting “Haiti, Haiti.”

While this was his first involvement in raising money for Haiti and he needed convincing to participate, Naples High senior, Taylor Allen, said what he learned about the work of Partners in Health made him an enthusiastic supporter. “I discovered a model of International Aid I believe in and an organization I can really support,” he commented.

Help is still needed

There are average people across the world making an extraordinary impact for Haiti. The Naples High students are just one story that demonstrates how determination and dedication can make a meaningful difference. Join them now by becoming a monthly donor and JustGive will match 50 cents of every dollar you donate. Show Haiti and its residents that while their story may have dropped from media headlines, they are not forgotten.

Update on Relief in Haiti


Is Haiti Forgotten?

In an earlier Haiti earthquake update blog we featured a photo from award-winning photojournalist Allison Shelley who worked with Project Hope while in Haiti. When Allison returned to Haiti for her second time she wanted to bring something back that could help the people she’d met. Five months after the deadly earthquake that rocked Haiti the answer that came back:  tents. The Haitian people still needed a structure to call home.

Led by donors like you, the world responded to Haiti in its time of need. JustGive donors alone gave more than $4.7 million to nonprofits working to aid Haiti. Allison returned to Haiti with tents donated by friends and colleagues so a few more Haitian people would have a dry place to sleep, but with hurricane season threatening their progress, the work to truly rebuild Haiti is far from done.

Long after the majority of giving for Haiti occurred, JustGive donors still haven’t forgotten. They continue to donate money for Haiti. Our matching campaign has raised more than $26,000 to date, and you can help us continue to raise money for nonprofits working to reconstruct Haiti by giving now.

As the photos below that Allison was so kind as to share with our readers, the climb to reconstruct Haiti is an uphill battle, but the Haitian people persevere.

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Photo Credits: Allison Shelley (All Rights Reserved)

Rebuilding Haiti is ongoing

Rubble and collapsed buildings still dominate the Haitian landscape. An estimated 1.3 million people were left homeless by the January earthquake and hundreds of thousands of Haitians are still living in tent camps around Port-au-Prince. Three weeks into hurricane season, with tropical rains falling on a daily basis, 21 of those camps are “high risk” or likely to flood.

The Haitian government continues to look at innovative ways to rebuild their country. On June 17, they launched “Building Back Better Communities,” a global competition to create different housing types that government officials can study before commissioning them for destroyed neighborhoods. The competition, which will have multiple winners, is divided into two parts to attract the greatest variety of ideas.

Notables such as former US President Bill Clinton and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim recently created a $20M fund to help rebuild the Haitian economy. “We have to unleash the ideas, the energy, the creativity of your enterprises. This is a good first step,” Clinton said. “The focus of this fund is to help create jobs not only by helping small- and medium-size business to recover but to do better than they were doing before the earthquake.”

But even with the help of such innovative funds and competitions, the reality is that Haitians still need help from the ground up. Our matching campaign focuses on rebuilding Haiti, because, despite the outpouring of generosity that met the earthquake, our friends in the nonprofit sector told us that their biggest need is sustained support of their efforts in Haiti.

Visit us next week for an update on the impact of your donations to Haiti relief. We’ll focus on some of the work nonprofits are doing on the ground in Haiti.

STOP in the Name of Haiti: Students Give Back

Naples HS Students Give Back

Teenagers. The word strikes fear into parents everywhere. Mind of their own, sometimes sullen, rebellious and … inspiring?

In the wake of the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, a group of about 30 high school students defied the stereotype of what a teenager can be by springing into action. The Naples High School (Florida) club, Students Together Opposing Poverty (STOP) started making a difference by collecting donations from fellow students and faculty. And their giving hasn’t stopped. With JustGive’s help, they’re creating a lasting impact.

Giving Back to Haiti

Challenged by a promise from their sponsor and high school teacher Cynthia Odierna to match their fundraising, the group raised $400 that Odierna turned into $800. “Our students have helped Haiti for years,” she explains. “This last fall, STOP members gave at a grassroots, local level (through a homeless shelter), but after the earthquake, they wanted to do more.”

Senior Carmela Zabala, co-president of STOP, explains why giving back is so important, “Everything bad seems to happen to Haiti. It’s a poor country that’s had a lot of conflict. The earthquake gave us an immediate reason to help. Right now, with all that’s going on, the need is so great.”

STOP members collected clothing, medical supplies, and teddy bears for Haiti, enlisted community support, and recruited other clubs at Naples High. They have organized events each month to continue to give for Haiti:

STOP Gets the Rock Out for Haiti

>>>>>In January, STOP joined Kids Against Hunger and packaged 518,000 meals for Haiti.

>>>>>The Student Government Association’s dunk tank and ROTC’s penny wars added to their Valentine’s fundraising efforts in February.

>>>>>Car washes scheduled in March and April.

>>>>>And a big Concert for the Cause is on tap for April 19.

Helping their gift do more

In finding JustGive, the students turned their $800 donation each month into $1,200 through our $25,000 matching campaign. Those funds will go directly to help their chosen nonprofits, Partners in Health (link) and Oxfam America (link) rebuild the services and infrastructure of Haiti.

“When I heard about the matching money, I thought it was awesome,” Zabala told JustGive. “(Raising the money each month) is definitely challenging, but it has helped us get more done and driven more students to help.”

When JustGive started the monthly matching campaign, we wanted to help Haiti beyond just the immediate needs from the earthquake.  We wanted to encourage others to join us and support the long-term recovery of the county.  We’ve found a great partner in the students of STOP. They care enough to give for immediate relief, but are also dedicated to rebuilding Haiti.

More than two months after the earthquake, the Haitian people are still digging out. Most nonprofits haven’t even been able to start rebuilding. That’s why I’m so inspired by the students of Naples High School. They understand the need to continue giving, and to help nonprofits that are in it for the long haul. They providing hope for Haiti’s future. And I’m proud we’re able to help them.

Now there’s  an inspiring story about teenagers to share with your friends —especially parents who have high schoolers of their own.

If more students across the U.S. followed the example of the Naples High STOP members, can you imagine how much donations for Haiti’s recovery could do?

The Chilean Earthquake: A disaster of personal proportions

Tsunami Caused by Chilean Earthquake
Photo by Carolina Inostroza/Flickr

The devastating 8.8 earthquake that struck Chile earlier this month caused untold damage, and aftershocks continue to reverberate across the country. The immediate focus was rescue and piecing together entire villages overtaken by tsunami waves. Many of you took quick action to help. But what comes next?

On the heels of such a devastating earthquake in Haiti, disaster fatigue is easy to understand. I’m susceptible to it myself. There are only so many stories I can read and hear before I want to tune out. But reading personal stories from people affected by the earthquake is moving, and makes what happened all the more real – hitting home about how important it is to help.

You can’t imagine the devastation. . .
Personal stories paint a picture we don’t often see on the news.

“We keep getting big aftershocks (more than 120 of them over 5 Richter) – we had one an hour ago and I’m on the 5th floor of an office building,” wrote Sharon Matthews, cousin of JustGive Founder Kendall Webb in an email.

“We have been so fortunate – all of our extended family is unharmed, although there were some close calls. Fernando’s daughter was in a brick house that collapsed entirely, and his son and (his son’s) pregnant wife were at a surfing zone that was hit with a tsunami….You can’t imagine the devastation it covers such a large geographic area. More than half a million people have lost their homes (and most lost all their personal possessions). In lots of coastal towns, what the earthquake didn’t destroy, the tsunami swept away.”

Another supporter of JustGive, Agustin F. Huneeus, Proprietor of Quintessa Wines, has family in Chile and experienced the earthquake wrote:

“The earthquake was more intense than one can imagine. A full 90 seconds of violent shaking that seemed to last forever was followed by dozens and dozens of aftershocks, some almost as intense as the first shock. For those of us that have experienced earthquakes, this one was unique—it apparently started to shake very hard immediately and without warning, jolting people out of bed disoriented and in shock. The quake was…so strong it was even hard to walk. Just imagine waking up to this, walking to your family to try and get them out of your house or apartment to safety.”

Families and livelihoods affected by destruction
Disaster is a terribly personal affair that brings together countries – and the world. The relatively small death toll from the Chile quake – approximately 500 – can obscure the massive need that exists for families. As new government officials enters office, they find a country in desperate need of emergency temporary housing to help an estimated 500,000 people whose homes were severely damaged, and whose livelihoods will be affected for years to come.

Chile’s wine industry, one of the world’s most popular, endured hundreds of millions of dollars in damage from overturned 15 foot high wine vats and stored barrels, damaged facilities, and disrupted grape growth. As Huneeus wrote:

“Veramonte suffered damages, including some buckled tanks, toppled barrels, glass and pallets of wine,” Huneeus wrote, “but overall, it was not serious and we actually feel fortunate. The wine industry as a whole, however, has suffered quite a bit of damage and has lost a large amount of wine.”

Chilean Barrels of Wine Toppled by Earthquake
Photo by Rodrigo Gomez/Flickr

About 70 percent of Chilean production takes place in areas badly affected by the quake. The damage threatens the entire 2010 harvest and exports, which will have a ripple effect on all those Chileans working in the wine industry – some 80,000 individuals. An article in USA Today details the impact.

We can all help
Chilean families need to rebuild to recover. It’s not too late to help. Individuals like Agustin Huneeus are mobilizing resources:

“In the US, we are quickly establishing programs, promotions and partnerships with retailers and other wineries from Chile to help send aid to the millions of people left hurt and homeless by this horrible disaster. For now, you can all help by supporting wines from Chile, and making contributions to organizations that are on the ground helping those in need in Chile.”

Through JustGive, you can donate now to organizations helping the country. Be sure to designate your gift to the “Chile Earthquake.” For more detail on charities working in Chile, see our last Chile blog.

Tell a friend and make a difference today!