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Tucson Volunteers for Haiti

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In the two weeks since the earthquake in Haiti, almost 1,000 volunteers in southern Arizona came to a local organization, World Care, to do whatever they could to help. The volunteers managed to collect 23 tons of supplies, and due to their efforts, the local company's fourth truck shipment will be headed to Florida and then Haiti in the next couple days.

"Our responsibility is to collect the resources here and package them up appropriately," said Lisa Hopper, founder and CEO of World Care.

The hallways of World Care, located on an old school site, are filled with boxes, supplies, and volunteers.  The items are separated into medical, clothing and food departments.  Hopper says that with World Care's unique system, volunteers and workers experience a sense of closure each and every day when they see the donations they receive shipped off to Haiti.

Everything in between is harder work than it seems, though.  Each person works in a different area, helping with tasks like separating items from boxes, writing expiration dates of each item on note cards, checking inventory of products and packing boxes correctly.  The medical department in World Care said they tend to finish about 300 boxes per day. 

"Tucson is amazing," Hopper said. "I am always humbled by the efforts that this community has the ability to do."

So far, World Care has collected 46,000 pounds of supplies or about 23 tons.  Hopper explained that in disasters like this, often the population keeps dying weeks after the initial trauma because they lack the hygiene and medical supplies to heal their wounds and maintain their health.  The majority of items World Care has collected are mostly medical and hygiene supplies and blankets.

"I think it’s the sunshine," Hopper explained of Tucson's giving community.  "Because a lot of people are retired here, they are happier to help others. They've chosen to be in the Arizona sun and they're happier."

World Care works as a team with other suppliers around the world.  It's important that World Care works closely with organizations like IRD (International Relief and Development), Feed The Children, and World Vision because they all have the same goal, Hopper said.

As with every relief effort, the system is not without its flaws and sometimes shipments don't make it to their destination.

Hopper explained that often after huge disasters like this, people love to get together with their groups, congregations, clubs, and commutinity and they are energized to help countries such as Haiti in whatever way they can.

"The problem with a lot of that is, is the fact that there is a process that has to be followed," Hopper said.  "You, when you hear that a lot of people's stuff isn't getting through, it's because they haven't gone through the proper process in order to make sure people's stuff is received on the other [end]. That it's properly handled, properly packaged, you still have to follow the rules, even in a disaster."

Along with having to meet shipping and receiving regulations, transportation to Haiti was slowed at first because their infrastructure was not up to standards.

"The towers had to be fixed to increase air travel to and from the island, the port had to be fixed so ships can be a faster form of transportation, and volunteers are trying to get supplies into Haiti and people out of Haiti," Hopper explained. "It has been pretty chaotic."

"I am privileged to be the one who has the opportunity to serve this community because that’s what I do," Hopper said. "I am just providing a service to this community as their representative of what they give, and so… I'm always overwhelmed emotionally… We're here as long as the people are here to support it." 

Hopper said that she will travel to Haiti to help this week.

Here are some options to get involved and support the relief efforts in Haiti:

-Go to World Care to volunteer, or go to their website to donate money or learn the specified items to bring in.

-Donate money through International Relief and Development

-Donate money through Feed the Children

-Donate money through World Vision

-Text HAITI to 90999 for a fast way to donate $10 to the American Red Cross

-Here is a map with easy directions from the UA to World Care in Tucson:

View World Care in a larger map

Written by Nikki Helms You are reading Tucson Volunteers for Haiti articles

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