February 6th, 2010 5:33 pm | by Leah Dimatteo News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP, Politics

What One Intrepid Portlander Has Done To Help Haiti And How You Can Help

haiti relief - Portland-Haiti relief container

Jeff Lorton, an unemployed graphic designer, couldn't afford to send a check to the Red Cross for Haiti relief efforts.

But Lorton had a better idea: take out the middle man and work himself to send aid directly to Haiti. Here's what he did and how you can help this Sunday, Feb. 7:

After the quake, Lorton spent a few hours researching on the Internet, making calls to disaster response organizations, and placing ads on Facebook and craigslist.org for like-minded volunteers. And he secured the funds and manpower needed to buy a 40-foot, 40,000-pound shipping container to be filled and to ship it straight to Haiti. Within a week, Lorton and his team of 60-plus volunteers filled and shipped the first container with donated survival supplies -including food, clothes, First Aid and 10 tons of spring water. The container, filled to capacity, was sent to Lifeline, an organization doing missionary work in Grand Goave, which is two hours south of Port au Prince.

Asked why he has become so deeply involved in this relief effort, Lorton explains “I felt like there was a kind of calling. There would be hundreds of people like myself that want to do something, and they'd only be able to send a check. They want to get their kids involved, they want to get themselves involved. People from all over the state of Oregon and southwest Washington have all responded the same way. They've sent the money they wanted to send, but they wanted to do more. They wanted to get their hands dirty.”

With donations still flowing continuously, Lorton has decided to load up another container. In fact, when I spoke with Lorton on the phone Friday morning, he was on his way to Goodwill to pick up several pallets of medical supplies, including 200 pairs of crutches, 30-40 wheelchairs, and other basic, necessary equipment such as stethoscopes and thermometers. For Lorton, this immediate effort should be only the beginning. “In the future, these containers will be filled with building supplies so they can rebuild,” Lorton says, “It's going to take a real sustained effort to help out with that community. We're a part of that community. Everyone has an opportunity to do their part.”

For those interested in helping out with the Portland-Haiti Relief Container Project, here are some ways you can get involved:

  • Give money: Go to any US Bank and asking to donate to the Portland Haiti Relief Fund (They need $4,000 in addition to the 10k they've already raised to cover the total shipping cost of the container)

  • Donate Supplies: High demand items include peanut butter, baby formula, canned meats, and shelter items such as dome tents, tarps, rope and duct tape, pocket knives

  • Volunteer: This Sunday join volunteers in sorting through donations, packing cargo, and getting involved with a community of altruistic locals. Show up at SE 12th & Ankeny St. at The Portland Foursquare Church Parking Lot. Sunday, Feb. 7th 10 AM to 5 PM.

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