Haiti: How to help

2:10 PM, Jan 14, 2010   |    comments
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Across the U.S., people with relatives and friends in Haiti are desperately trying to get word from the earthquake-ravaged nation.

In Miami, Hans Mardy has dialed hundreds of times, praying his father or sister or brothers will pick up the phone. But no one answers.

The U.S. has about 800,000 residents of Haitian descent. Some are pouring their energy into relief efforts, joining Americans with no connection to Haiti who just want to help as they collect bottled water, canned goods, medical supplies and money. Others are bowing their heads in prayer or sitting transfixed by their televisions as they await word.

People are doing what they can to mobilize aid to Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. The U.S. is dispatching ships, helicopters, planes and a 2,000-member Marine unit.

The U.S. State Department Operations Center says Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti should call 1-888-407-4747 or or 202-647-5225.

Due to heavy volume, some callers may receive a recording.

"Our embassy is still in the early stages of contacting American citizens through our Warden Network," the U.S. State Department said in a statement. "Communications are very difficult within Haiti at this time."

You can text the word "HAITI" to 90999 and a $10 donation will be made to the Red Cross, and added to your cell phone bill.

Here are links to other ways of making donations to the Haitian relief effort:

The FBI has already received complaints of fraud, so officials suggest sticking with established organizations like the American Red Cross, AmeriCares and Doctors Without Borders. E-mail users should not respond to or click on links in unsolicited messages.

You can double-check on donations by visiting web sites like The Foundation Center or Charity Navigator to ensure your money is going where it is needed.

More Haiti Coverage:

CBS News and The Associated Press

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