Want to help Haiti? Give money. That’s it, nothing else.
That’s the message aid organizations want us to understand. They know we want to help, but helping in the form of sending old clothes, shoes, toys, drugs, and household goods actually hinders their progress.
They know we mean well, but when thousands of people mail goods to disaster areas, it clogs things up. It wastes aid workers’ time sorting through piles and piles of stuff. Not only that, in the case of prescription drugs — and yes, people have sent them — it can be dangerous.
The outpouring of monetary donations to aid organizations who are helping in Haiti has been very positive. The Red Cross, Partners in Health, Yele Haiti, and the Salvation Army have raised unprecedented amounts of money through texting campaigns, and tonight all major networks will be airing the Hope for Haiti concert.
Money allows aid organizations to purchase food, water, medical supplies, and basic necessities. It also allows them to put experience medical professionals and search and rescue teams on the ground. Money helps rebuild critical infrastructure, like damaged water systems and roads.
So if you were thinking of packing up your kids’ old clothes or shoes to send to Haiti, here’s an idea: Sell all those items in a garage sale, then donate the money to one of these organizations.