Helping Haiti: This weekend in the Twin Cities


Nick Coleman tweets: “Total $$$ pledged to Haiti — U.S. and ALL sources — equals 1.5 percent of Wall Street bonuses being paid. God Save America.” If you want to do your part to balance the score this weekend, you have a choice of lots of benefits in the Twin Cities, listed below, along with other ways to contribute directly to Haiti relief efforts.

Benefits to help Haiti

The Hip Hop benefit evening happened already – January 19 at the Nomad Pub. But wait – you can watch the video from St. Paul’s HSRA teens and contribute to their favorite Haitian charity: Grammy-winning Haitian musician Jean Wyclef’s Yéle Haiti.

Friday night, January 22 – At the Cedar Cultural Center, Solidarite Avec Haiti will raise money for earthquake relief with an all-star line-up of  Twin Cities African and Latin American performers, food from Victor’s 1959 Cafe and the French Meadow Bakery, and an art auction. Proceeds will go to Doctors Without Borders.

Also on Friday, the Lounge Concierge will have a Hope for Haiti event, with proceeds going to the Red Cross.

Sunday, January 24A benefit conert for Haitians at Chanhassen High School, sponsored by three local churches, hosted by Trish Van Pilsum, with music by Robert Robinson and others, benefiting Feed My Starving Children and the village of Bouzy relief organization.

Saturday, January 30, another stellar lineup will stage a benefit at Pangaea World Theater. Poets, spoken word artists and performers include Khary Jackson, Ayanna Muata, Gabrielle Civil, Ellen Marie Hinchcliffe, and more. Proceeds will go to Dr. Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health.

Learn about Haiti

Thursday, January 28Teach-in on Haiti: An unnatural disaster

Locally, the Haiti Justice Committee has been working to educate people and to stand in solidarity with Haitians. Dick Bernard, one of its members, has written a lot about Haiti. His latest blog post, published on the TC Daily Planet, has links to earlier writing and to a timeline of Haitian history.

Good places to send your donations

Many organizations are channeling donations to Haiti. You can find long lists at MPR and elsewhere. I can highly recommend:

Partners in Health

Doctors Without Borders

Oxfam America


We get comments, questions, and requests from readers, and the biggest topic this week is Haiti. Here are some answers for your questions and ways to help – through donations, volunteering, or going to benefit events.

You asked: What organizations can Twin Cities residents volunteer (not just donate) at to help Haiti?

The only local organization with volunteer hours for Haiti that I’ve seen is Feed My Starving Children, where volunteers pack meals to be airlifted to Haiti.

You asked: I work for a medical clinic and one of my co worker heard on MPR news radio about sending medical supplies to Haiti. Do you know of this organization or heard about this and how do we go about donating these supplies?

We located the MPR story, though it’s not entirely clear how to go about donating supplies. Here’s the relevant part:

Project Haiti, which works a Haitian hospital in the town of Pignon, plans to send medical supplies there to help the hospital with increased demand.

The hospital in Pignon, located about 100 miles from the capital of Port-au-Prince, was treating patients injured in Tuesday’s earthquake because hospitals in Port-au-Prince had been damaged or destroyed.

“They’re busy now and getting busier,” Dr. Howard McCollister, a surgeon in Crosby that leads Project Haiti, told MPR’s Morning Edition.

A word of caution

Tragedy brings out the best in some people and the worst in others. The Better Business Bureau and the FBI warn:

Past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization and/or a good cause.

Therefore, before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, to include the following:

– Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.

– Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.

– Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence  and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.

– Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.

– Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on  others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.

– Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits  contributions: Providing such information may compromise your identity and  make you vulnerable to identity theft.