Technology changes face of relief efforts


Project Haiti just one group here to use new communications methods to make a difference

By Priya Patel and Hope Boyer
<[email protected], [email protected]

It was after she saw the wreckage in Haiti on TV that Kathleen Hayes, creator of the Project Haiti Club and junior, said she wanted to help make a difference. “Right after that, we talked to (English teacher Jerry) Brickley about having him sponsor a club that would help us raise money for the people in Haiti. Seeing all of the news coverage really inspired us to step up,” she said. 

The Jan. 12 earthquake in Port Au Prince, Haiti, was devastating for the Haitians. The extent of this natural disaster was widely broadcast by cable networks, resulting in a pervasive outpouring of relief. But what’s unique is, as students like Hayes feel the need to aid victims of the earthquake, they find the Web and other forms of technology can help them with fundraising efforts within their clubs.

SENDING AID: Isabelle Dakkins, French Club member and senior, helps prepare that the French Club sold to raise money for Haitian relief efforts. GABRIELLE BOWERS / PHOTO


One of those clubs is Project Haiti, which is scheduled to host fundraisers today at Maggie Moo’s and Cool River Pizza in Carmel.

Hayes said she is trying to get as many students involved in the club as possible to make the largest possible effect and said using different modes of communication have been extremely beneficial. 

“We started a Facebook club so that kids at Carmel can see what’s really going on in Haiti,” she said. “It’s useful that we can get the info out there technologically. Even just doing the TV announcements during SRT helps a lot. The news on the TV really affected us when we saw the damage. After just seeing a small bit of what the Haitians were being put through inspired me to help.”

Brickley said, “(The club members) are making good use of the technology available to them. It’s the reality of today. If you don’t use the technology, then you won’t be able to get the message out. It is there to stay connected, get organized, get more information, and most importantly, get the message out.”

FUNDRAISING FOR HAITI: UNICEF members sell baked goods to raise money for Haiti. Different clubs are finding ways to help aid the people of Haiti. GABRIELLE BOWERS / PHOTO


The evolution of donations through text messages and other phone services has also created a drastic change in how awareness and relief funds can be raised. According to the Red Cross Web site, the latest innovation is free applications created for iPhone and Blackberry users which allow them to access real-time news feeds from the Red Cross about what is happening in Haiti. 

But potentially The Red Cross’s most widely recognized initiative is the “text for relief” program created shortly after the earthquake. According to its Web site, the Red Cross teamed up with Mobile Accord and the mGive Foundation to allow customers of participating wireless carriers to text message “Haiti” to 90999 to make a donation of $10 that would be taken from the customer’s next phone bill. 

Junior Taylor Imus is one of many students here who have donated using this service. She said she donated $20 through the Red Cross texting program. 

“I love the idea of donating through texts. I’ve donated to a few other charities, and it’s harder because you have to wait for them to send you the envelope and then mail it back. This was easy—one simple transaction,” Imus said. “I also think it encouraged people to donate because it was so easy.”

With the efforts of students and citizens around the world such as Hayes and Imus the Red Cross was able to raise $7 million through text messages alone within two days of the earthquake, according to

Hayes said, “I think it’s a great way to reach out to a wide range of people. Texting is so convenient and with one click you’re already helping.”