Local group collecting aid for Haiti earthquake victims

JoAnne Kuehner, president and founder of Hope for Haiti, takes calls from people looking to help as the organization mobilizes its relief effort in response to Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010, in Naples. The organization is searching for monetary donations, medical supplies and medical professionals willing to travel to Haiti.  For more information on how to help, go to www.hopeforhaiti.com. David Albers/Staff

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JoAnne Kuehner, president and founder of Hope for Haiti, takes calls from people looking to help as the organization mobilizes its relief effort in response to Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010, in Naples. The organization is searching for monetary donations, medical supplies and medical professionals willing to travel to Haiti. For more information on how to help, go to www.hopeforhaiti.com. David Albers/Staff

  • Hope for Haiti
  • Mission of Hope - Haiti
  • American Red Cross
  • Text "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti
  • World Harvest Mission
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Contact Nesly Loute of the Haitian American Association of Southwest Florida at neslyloute@yahoo.com or (239) 601-2023.
  • Contact Angie Valentini of Helps Outreach at 239-273-2258 or visit them at 2025 J&C Boulevard in Naples.
  • UNICEF
  • Text YELE to 501 501 and 5 dollars will go toward Wyclef Jean's Yele.org Haiti earthquake relief fund
  • Americans concerned about family in Haiti can call the U.S. State Dept. for info: 1-888-407-4747

When Elizabeth Davison, the executive director for Hope for Haiti, heard the news of Tuesday’s devastating earthquake on the island national she cried.

“These people just can’t catch a break,” Davison said.

The tears didn’t last long. She is now spearheading a group organizing aid to Haiti.

“We need prayers and financial aid,” Davison said.

At the Hope for Haiti office at 1042 Sixth Ave. North, the phones are ringing and the donations are rolling in. Now, organizers have to figure out a way to get them to Haiti.

Davison said gas to fuel two airplanes is right now the biggest obstacle.

When they will be able to leave and where they can land may turn out to be another obstacle.

Hope for Haiti’s main compound is based in Les Cayes, which is normally a four hour drive to Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti and the site of most of the earthquake’s damage.

Davison said she got a report that the walls of an orphanage, the organization supports, crumbled in the quake. She is not sure if there have been any deaths or injuries related to the building collapse.

"Once we get there we are going to have the toughest task of helping these people get their lives back in order," Davison said.

Anyone interested in making a donation to Hope for Haiti can call 434-7183 or visit their Web site at hopeforhaiti.com

Tuesday night, the Haitian community in Southwest Florida began scrambling to call home, to find out how their family members were holding up. But they couldn't make the connection.

"No one can get through to find out what's going on," said Altchence Alteme, pastor of Fort Myers Solid Rock Church of Nazarene. "We can not get any information yet from our own family in Haiti."

Alteme said earthquakes are rare in Haiti, and noted that homes are not built to hold against such disasters.

"We cannot predict exactly how terrible it is over there, even the government doesn't know exactly what is going on," Alteme said. "You build your house the way you want to. Everybody does what they want to do."

Nesly Loute, president of the Haitian American Association of Southwest Florida, said he is organizing a meeting for Wednesday around noon to discuss options for going to Haiti and helping. He said those interested can reach him at neslyloute@yahoo.com or (239) 601-2023.

Loute said the situation is "terrible."

"We're just watching the news on CNN. We try to do whatever we can, we're waiting till tomorrow to see if we can get in touch with our family over there," Loute said.

Pierre Merone, pastor with First Haitian Baptist Church in Naples, held a prayer meeting Tuesday evening.

"Haiti was in a really bad situation, and this is going to make it worse for people," Merone said.

Charities collecting donations to aid victims of earthquake in Haiti

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