Augusta-area residents still working to help Haiti

Concerts, drives keep aid coming

First came the text message campaigns, pledging relief to Haiti and its victims struck by January's earthquake. Corporations and governments were quick to follow on the heels of relief agencies.


Soon after, students around the country stepped in with penny drives and hygiene kits. Others in the community have followed with used shoe drives and, finally, video gaming parties, all in the name of sending relief to the devastated country.

Creative, ongoing efforts to help Haiti emerge from ruin persist, even as media coverage of the situation wanes.

The need hasn't diminished and isn't likely to anytime soon, said Jean-Jacob Jeudy, a Haitian-born second lieutenant in the Army at Fort Gordon. Jeudy's sister, her husband and their five children died in the earthquake.

"Six weeks after the disaster, more than two-thirds of survivors are still homeless ... and are unable to cope with daily life," said Jeudy, who worships at Saints Sanctuary, a Haitian Christian church in Augusta.

The situation is improving, just not nearly as fast as it should be, Jeudy said.

Members of the community are still striving to do their part.

Teams of missionaries from West Acres Baptist Church in Evans and Life Ministries International in Martinez have served in Haiti since the earthquake.

Others have found ways to benefit victims while still in Augusta.

Foot Solutions in Evans collects gently used shoes for victims of the earthquake; so has the Augusta campus of the University of Phoenix, which sends them to the charity Soles4Souls.

The Tournament Center, a gaming hangout near Augusta Mall, held a Street Fighter IV competition last week, donating the prize money to Haiti.

"It was a small thing, but it all helps," said Drew Greiner, who planned the tournament with fellow Augusta State University student John Buckley.

At Paine College, hygiene items donated by students were assembled into kits Friday by Rosa Jean, a junior with a grandfather in Port-au-Prince, and freshman Jabal Moss.

About 500 of the kits will be distributed by the Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church.

"The community support and the school support has been overwhelming," Moss said. "I never expected it to take off the way it did."

Younger students have contributed to the efforts as well.

With 81 students, Immaculate Conception Catholic School raised $817.39 through the Pennies for Port-au-Prince fundraiser.

Richmond County schools raised more than $12,000 for the nonprofit Hope for Haiti, which provides medical aid, housing and education. The majority of donations were small amounts given in the classroom by students, school officials said.

People's generosity drives the success of relief efforts, said Jubba, a gospel artist who organized a benefit concert.

"We had 200 people who went above and beyond," he said.

Ten bands and musicians played to raise money that will send supplies collected at the local Haitian church. They raised $2,000 in one night earlier this month.

Other musicians have followed suit.

On Friday, local bands Great Day in the Morning, My Instant Lunch, Spring Tigers and Eat Lightning played at Sky City for the Jean Cadet Restavek Foundation, which aims to end child slavery in Haiti.

First Baptist Church of Augusta used a multifaceted approach, planning a show with comedian Taylor Mason that raised $5,800, while also collecting money through the Southern Baptist Convention and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

In April, church members will take a team with medical and construction experience to work near Port-au-Prince.

"The people of Haiti need help to secure shelter, food, water and medical care. They need and are receiving help from all over the world," said Kelly Hamilton, the minister of missions and faith development.

The church, he said, is praying that "we will be able to offer our gifts and talents to help families in Haiti that have faced a disaster of biblical proportions. We simply want to make a difference in the lives of Haitians in the name of Jesus Christ."

A team from Aiken also is planning an April trip. St. Paul Lutheran Church will take up to 14 people to work at The Village of Hope School. The school serves 665 children and is a ministry of the Lazarus Project, said church member Bill Blosser, who serves on the Lazarus board of directors.

"We need people with technical skills and construction know-how," he said. "A lot of the teachers have lost their homes. Fortunately, a lot of the school didn't suffer much damage. We're trying to raise funds. Fortunately, people have been responsive."

For that, Jeudy said he is thankful.

"The outpouring of aid and assistance is widespread and greatly appreciated for a nation in distress and great need. This is a continuing effort," he said. "Haiti will need their support for months, years and, perhaps, decades to come.

Local missionary groups provide help in Haiti