The State of Florida, Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service (Volunteer Florida) advises all Floridians that financial support for Haiti is the BEST option at this time.
Individuals and organizations, including student organizations at colleges and universities, are STRONGLY DISCOURAGED from conducting any collections of material goods (food, water, clothing, etc). This often leads to what is called “the disaster after the disaster.” While well intentioned, the collection of material goods often becomes a logistical nightmare to manage down the road. Numerous issues arise, including but not limited to:
– Sorting, classification of donated goods.
– Cleaning, packaging of donated goods.
– Transportation of donated goods.
– Warehousing of donated goods not ready to ship and/or distribute.
– Equitable distribution of donated goods.
– Disposal of goods that are not wanted, needed, or are unsuitable for distribution.
Likewise, volunteers seeking to travel to Haiti should only do so if part of an established humanitarian or relief organization that has the infrastructure to fully support you while you are there. Again, while well intentioned, unaffiliated or self-deployed volunteers often become more of a burden than an asset. This stems from the fact that following a catastrophic disaster such as this one, the infrastructure is not there to sustain them, including a lack of: housing, food, water, transportation, equipment, supplies, communication, health, medical, to name a few. There are already 2 million+ persons in desperate need of these resources, which simply do not exist. Unless you know of a way to bring it ALL with you, don’t go.
Right now, the best thing you or your organization can do is collect and donate CASH to the charitable organization of your choice. The collection of donated goods and volunteerism will become more appropriate in the months and years to come once the basic needs and infrastructure are restored and unmet needs are identified.
For more information, visit: http://volunteerflorida.org/ or http://alerts.fsu.edu