Aid for Haiti swelling across East Valley - East Valley Tribune: News

Aid for Haiti swelling across East Valley

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Posted: Saturday, January 23, 2010 2:40 pm | Updated: 3:29 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The East Valley may seem far removed from the devastation in Haiti caused by an earthquake 12 days ago, but the tragedy has reached even here, where a small Haitian church mourns its dead and worries about the sick and injured.

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The East Valley may seem far removed from the devastation in Haiti caused by an earthquake 12 days ago, but the tragedy has reached even here, where a small Haitian church mourns its dead and worries about the sick and injured.

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“One of my colleagues, his mother died in the tragedy,” said Jean Michel, pastor of the First Community Haitian Ministry Church, 140 S. 97th St. in Mesa.

Other members of the 20-person, 5-year-old nondenominational congregation have relatives that were injured in the 7.0-magnitude Jan. 12 earthquake, which collapsed buildings around the country and killed an estimated 200,000 people.

The church is collecting donations of food, clothing, water and medical supplies. Michel, who has lived in Arizona for 17 years, said he plans to visit Haiti in the coming weeks.

Around the East Valley, there are wide-ranging efforts to help the quake victims, with medical professionals, businesses, schools and churches all pitching in.

The Grove Church, northeast of Gilbert and Queen Creek roads in Chandler, is sponsoring a trip to Haiti for about 10 doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, in conjunction with the nonprofit Christian group Children of the Nations.

John Gillis, a Tempe-based oral and facial surgeon, is among the group set to leave just after midnight on Sunday morning for a 20-hour trip by plane and truck to the stricken country.

Gillis said the medics have been assembled from across the U.S. for a six-day mission to care for those near the border Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic.

It’s unclear what type of medical supplies and equipment might await them, so the group is bringing its own.

“We’re paying for a lot of our own gear and everything we’re going to use,” he said.

Gillis said he’s heard reports that hospitals have had to rely on vodka and rum to sterilize medical equipment, so he’s bringing his own chemicals. The accommodations are expected to be rough, and he’s taking such things as a sleeping bag, mosquito repellent and protein bars.

Jonathan Hodgson, a doctor of osteopathy and Gillis’ brother-in-law, is going, as well. Hodgson, who previously worked on medical missions to Peru and Malawi, said he expects to see a lot of broken bones, festering wounds and water-borne illnesses.

“There’s such a huge need for medical supplies and treatment,” he said.

City of Grace Church, 655 E. University Drive in Mesa, has announced plans to send a delegation to Haiti, as well. Chandler Christian Church has raised more than $22,000 for Haitian emergency relief. LifeChurch East Valley, in Gilbert, hopes to raise $1,000.

Another Haitian church, the Haitian Christian Ministry, 465 E. Ray Road in Gilbert, plans to hold a prayer service dedicated to earthquake victims at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The service will be held just across the street from the Haitian church, at the Sun Valley Community Church, 456 E. Ray Road.

Some local businesses have pledged money for relief efforts, too. Flancers restaurant, with locations in Mesa and Gilbert, plans to donate up to $2 for every pizza sold through Thursday .

A number of schools also are pitching in. In Gilbert, Mesquite Elementary School has asked students and teachers each to bring in $1 for disaster relief. Val Vista Lakes, Towne Meadows and Ashland Ranch elementary schools, and Highland High School, also are collecting monetary donations.

In Mesa, Meridian Elementary School hosted a “Hat Day for Haiti” on Friday, where students pay $1 for a hat, with the proceeds going to relief efforts. And in Chandler,

CTA-Goodman Elementary School is accepting cash donations for quake victim assistance.

Mesa United Way is accepting donations to send to Haiti. To make a donation, send checks to Mesa United Way, 137 E. University Drive, Mesa, 85201, or call (480) 969-8601.

Donations can also be made at www.mesaunitedway.org.

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