Charity comes in different forms, sizes

Many of us as students are not often affected by events that occur outside of our little “Tech Bubble.” But the recent earthquake in Haiti has hit close to home for many students and faculty.

Especially after being assigned in ethics last semester to read the novel Mountains Beyond Mountains—a non-fictional work about Paul Farmer’s contributions to Haiti’s medical needs and the immense suffering that the people of Haiti endure—the increased suffering as of late has really had an impact.

And although it saddens me that it has taken such a catastrophic event to raise funds for a country that has been in such great need for so many years, it is so wonderful to see how people all over the world are gathering together for such a worthwhile cause. I sincerely hope that Haiti is not simply a passing fad that will fade as the media coverage dies; the people of this country are in such great need of help from others that I am hopeful for continued donations.

Working in Customer Service at Publix, where we are currently taking donations from customers for the Red Cross for Haiti relief, I have come across people who seem oblivious, entirely unwilling to donate—many of whom live in comfortable homes, have regularly full stomachs and drive gas-guzzling automobiles.

It is extremely disheartening that there are people out there who either feel either as though their money is not worth donating or they cannot possibly make a difference with a small donation.

And then there are those who feel as though they do not have the funds or means to donate but would really love to contribute. I can say that I was one of those people until I was given several opportunities to make a difference.

There are somewhere around 300 million people who live in the United States. If every person donated just $5, the price of a cheap pack of cigarettes or a venti cup of coffee from Starbucks, the U.S. alone would raise $1.5 billion toward relief efforts.

We have a chance to help rebuild a nation and reignite hope in millions of lives. People who have been living below the absolute poverty line for years, who still manage to have faith in humanity, who have recently endured a horrific natural disaster in which many of them lost family members and who can still manage to find something to smile about are people worth helping.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, and considering the average annual per capita income of a Haitian is around $500, $5 can have a huge impact on any one family or sick individual in Haiti. It is those $5 donations from millions of people that will add up quickly for the Haitian people and make a difference.

Something like $380 million has thus far been raised to help, but CNN has already reported that donations are beginning to slow and are already down by 50%. And while $380 million is a substantial amount of money that will initially make an unbelievable impact, it will not be enough to do much beyond initial relief efforts.

Who knows how long Haitians will have an adequate supply of food, clean water and clothing unless people remain interested and continue to give any way they can. I sincerely hope the media coverage does not move on to another story prematurely. The media coverage, sadly, is the means by which the public stays interested and willing to help.

For those who feel as though you do not have the money to spare, there are still other ways you can help. Organizations like the Salvation Army are taking clothing donations to ship to Haiti. So instead of spending $5 or $10, spend a few minutes of your day going through old clothing to find articles that you may not wear.

Many Tech organizations are also currently participating in relief efforts. There have even been Facebook groups dedicated to raising funds and awareness to help out. For more information on ways in which you can help, visit dedicated to support efforts on campus.

Keep in mind that natural disasters can strike any place at any time. The earthquake could have been here. So instead of wishing you could do something and simply feeling apathetic toward those who have lost so much, find a way to help.

As Tech students, many of us will no doubt go on to do many great things and contribute great innovations to society. But we have an opportunity now to contribute something greater: hope. I encourage everyone to do so in any way you can.