Thomasina Johnson

Miami University has quickly risen to the challenge to meet Haiti’s need for relief after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake rocked the country’s capital.

A fundraising meeting brought the American Red Cross, Miami faculty, staff, students and organizations together Wednesday in MacMillan Hall.

“We want to hear the ways students think we can raise the most money and the best way to make a difference,” said Barb Jones, vice president for student affairs.

Christine Birhanzel, director of the American Red Cross Butler Country chapter, and Monica Ways, director of community engagement and service at Miami, stressed the importance of monetary donations at this moment, as opposed to food or clothing.

The Red Cross, Miami and Trauth Dairy teamed up to place 300 milk jugs around campus for students to drop in monetary donations, said Hailee Gibbons, youth outreach leader in the Office of Community Engagement and Service.

According to Ways, cash donations are necessary to fund organizations like the Red Cross that are uniquely

positioned and trained to respond. The donations allow the money to stay in Haiti and support the country’s economy.

“Cash donations are the most valuable to relief efforts right now,” Ways said. “We have to learn from past disasters what will be impractical right now.”

There are three levels of a disaster: relief, recovery and reconstruction. As of now, Haiti has entered the relief level, Ways said.

“Due to poor transportation resources, donations, such as clothes can often become a burden because they can’t be sorted or distributed,” Ways said.

According to Gibbons, the best way to help the Haiti relief effort is to get involved.

“Educate yourself and others,” Gibbons said. “It’s also important to stay on top of the needs.”

Miami has introduced new methods for student organizations to easily send money to the Red Cross or another charity, according to Jones.

Jones and Gibbons said student organizations that raise money for Haiti may bring their monetary donations to the cashier’s office in the Campus Avenue Building.

“The students can ask for their money to go into account number 9048 and it will be transferred directly to the American Red Cross,” Gibbons said.

According to Gibbons, student organizations can also donate money from their personal account to a Miami charitable contributions account. This money can go to any charity of the organization’s choice.

Ways said Haiti’s recovery process will be long and stressed the importance of not forgetting Haiti’s needs in the future.

“Volunteer opportunities, like alternative spring breaks, won’t be available until for at least a year, but there are other opportunities available,” Ways said.

A group entitled “Miami University Haiti Relief Efforts” has been created to help raise money for the Haiti relief. The page includes resources, photos and discussions about what the Miami community can do to help and can be found by searching on Facebook.