by Winston Chua
ARCADIA – Cities in the West San Gabriel Valley, includingArcadia and Alhambra, along with local churches, are weighing in on the crisisthat lies in Haiti. Around 200,000 people have died and hundreds of thousandsof people are now homeless. Though the methods of people willing to help may bedifferent, they are united in intention.
Arcadia City Councilman Gary Kovacic said of the positiveresponse to the crisis, “It truly demonstrates what a family we have in the entireworld. It’s good toknow that we are available and motivated to help out in atime like this.”
Tuesday night Kovacic urged Arcadia to give by texting theword “Haiti” to 90999. Every text contributes $10 to the relief effort throughthe Red Cross. As of Sunday the organization had collected pledges of $103million, $22 million of which came through the text-messaging program. A RedCross spokesman said that $500,000 was coming in per hour during promotions bythe National Football League.
Although there may be nothing but goodwill in these gifts,Mandarin Baptist Church of Pasadena pastor Ray Petzholt said people shouldexercise caution in terms of how they give.
Working with victims of Hurricane Fifi in the 1970s, he sawresources squandered by people who mismanaged charitable contributions. He alsoexperienced this in other missions to El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico duringthat same decade, where lives were shattered.
“When we went through Latin America after the hurricanes,”Petzholt said, “the Guatemalan government aid was put in big bodegas. Aftersome time had passed, we found all this rotten stuff in those same places.”
In his Honduras experience, Petzholt said that much of theaid designed for the less affluent goes to the people that do not need it, somethrough powerful connections. Sometimes those resources get wasted.
To fight that corruption, his church teams up with theSouthern Baptist Foreign Mission Board to pool their resources specifically for5,000 missionaries internationally, where they know more directly how food andessentials are distributed. World Vision and other religious organizations, hesaid, “get aid there to people that really need it.”
Petzholt is optimistic about Haitian recovery. The island ismore receptive to aid than China was, and former Presidents Clinton and GeorgeW. Bush are lending their support.
The non-denominational Alhambra Church of Christ said itwould take up a donation this coming Sunday and are open to contributing morethan a one-time offering.
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