Island reaches out to Haiti earthquake victims

The greater Mercer Island community, from churches to downtown businesses, is reaching out to the victims of the 7.0 magnitude, Jan. 12 Haiti earthquake. Already recognized as one of the worst natural disasters in recent history, with more than 50,000 deaths reported so far, relief agencies from across the globe are working to get emergency supplies and health personnel into the Caribbean country.

Mercer Island, too, is playing its part. A number of religious organizations, service clubs and businesses have jumped to collect donations for the people of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Most of the funds are funneled through world relief organizations such as the American Red Cross, Mercy Corps and UNICEF.

• The Mona Foundation, a nonprofit organization with ties to Mercer Island that supports women's education in Haiti, has set up the Mona Foundation Haiti Disaster and Reconstruction Fund on its Mona Foundation Web site, where Islanders are urged to donate. One-hundred percent of their money will go to benefit the people of Haiti.

The foundation supports four schools in Haiti. News has yet to be received from Mona's ties in the disaster zone.

"We have not been able to reach anyone at any of the projects yet and we are very concerned for the staff and children’s well-being! We have been calling and e-mailing since Tuesday night and will continue to try to reach someone and issue a statement to let our supporters know the status when we do hear," said Mona Foundation Business Director Sarah Rohm.

• The Island's Cellar 46 wine bar and restaurant is organizing a Haiti relief event on Jan. 31. All proceeds from wine sales at "Turning Wine into Water ~ Haiti Relief Benefit at Cellar 46" will go toward much needed water, food and medical supplies. The event starts at 5 p.m. There will be live music, food, wine tasting and a wine auction for those who attend. Individual donations will be collected at the door.

For more information, visit the Cellar 46 Web Site or contact Nalani Dias at (206) 407-3016.

• Mercer Island parents and schoolchildren are organizing a bake sale scheduled for Monday, Jan. 18, from 1 to 4 p.m. in the courtyard space outside of the Island Square Apartments leasing office at 2758 78th Ave. S.E. All proceeds from the bake sale will be given to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts in Haiti. For more information, contact Marlo Isaac at (206) 920-2963.

Island religious organizations are also collecting donations from congregation members and anyone else eager to help:

• The Mercer Island Presbyterian Church (MIPC) is asking its congregation to donate to the PCUSA Disaster Relief program through the secure PC(USA) Web site,, or by sending a check to:

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

P.O. Box 643700

Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700

Please include the special designated giving account DR000064 – Haiti.

Congregation members can also donate funds through the church, which will be collecting all month.

• New Hope International Church is also collecting relief funds.

"We are asking our congregation to give offerings this Sunday, and we'll donate it to an organization that is helping, most likely the Red Cross," a church representative said.

Islanders who are not part of the congregation can send donations with the heading "Haiti relief" to:

New Hope International Church

9170 S.E. 64th Street

Mercer Island, WA 98040

• Herzl-Ner Tamid is collecting donations at a this Web site and among its members. To donate through Herzl-Ner Tamid, call 232-8555 for more information.

Indeed, most Island churches will collect donations for the victims of the Haiti disaster at their upcoming services. Islanders can contact their local religious organization for more details.

• The Mercer Island Rotary Club held a meeting today to formulate a plan for raising Haiti relief donations. Club Secretary David Bobanick said that a donations plan for Islanders should be settled within the next two days. The Reporter will keep readers updated. For more information, call Bobanick at (206) 550-6684.

• The Mercer Island Lion's Club branch reported that the International Lion's Club has already sent $50,000 in relief to the people of Haiti. The Island branch is not organizing any specific relief fund, but members are encouraged to donate through the international Lion's Web site. Select Disaster and include “LCIF Haiti Earthquake Relief” in the comments section. David Heath of the Naches Lion's Club, wrote the Reporter to remind that there are no administration costs associated with donations to the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). There are three Lions Clubs in Haiti, and two in Port Au Prince.

• And Microsoft, which employs hundreds of Islanders, announced that it was giving $1.25 million to humanitarian efforts in earthquake-devastated Haiti. The company is also urging its employees to donate and said that it will match employee donations of up to $12,000. Microsoft has set up portals on Bing and MSN, from where people can donate to the relief effort. The company recommends donating to the American Red Cross, Unicef, MercyCorps, NetHope and other organizations.

Islanders can donate on their own through the following relief organizations' Web sites:

American Red Cross, 800-733-2767 or the organization's Web site. To donate $10 to the American Red Cross, text Haiti to 90999. The amount will be added to your next phone bill.

Northwest Medical Teams, Portland, 800-959-4325 or the organization's Web site

World Concern, Seattle, 800-755-5022 or the organization's Web site

UNICEF To donate to the ongoing emergency relief efforts in Haiti and the Caribbean region, please visit: the organization's Web site

• If you are an Island business or organization also raising relief for the Haiti disaster and want to be included in this story, please contact Rebecca Mar at (206) 232-1215.

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