Local Red Cross flooded with calls to help Haiti

January 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
In the Bay Area, people are stepping up to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake so much the Red Cross has had to set up a phone bank to handle the calls and donations that are pouring in.

American Red Cross employees cannot believe the phones are ringing so much.

"Initially, we thought we could handle the volume of calls," said Gregory Smith, with the Red Cross.

At first, Smith was not convinced they would need a phone center, but when the Red Cross staff became overwhelmed, they called in the volunteers.

"I'm pleased to be wrong. I was pleased to be in error with the notion that we wouldn't need a call center," said Smith.

The heartbreaking images from Haiti being shown on TV are motivating people to respond in a way they have not since 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina. Volunteers say the number of calls seem to spike right after a newscast.

"It's really heartwarming to see how much everyone is willing to give. I've had a number of people say I am really embarrassed I can't give more, but I want to make a donation," said volunteer Richard Skaff.

"It's really amazing and they're always ending the conversation with 'God bless you' or 'thank you for what you're doing.' What's wonderful about that is it is what they're doing, not what we're doing," said volunteer Bruce Burtch.

But 4-year-old Enrique Eigner prefers the old fashion way of giving. He stopped by the Red Cross office in Oakland and handed over his spare change. He told them he wanted it to go to Haiti.

Enrique said he wanted to give "Because houses fell over."

"He was looking at the paper with me this morning and saw the pictures of the people and the kids and he saw some kids who looked sad, so we talked about this and way to use his money and this is what he agreed to," said Enrique's dad, Adam Eigner.

The phone bank in Oakland is in such high demand, it will be open through the weekend.


There are several ways to donate to the American Red Cross. You can go to their websiteBay Area American Red Cross

You can also call: 1 (888) 4-help-bay or 1-888-443-5722

If you want to use your cell phone, just text the word "Haiti" to 90999. That will send $10 to the Red Cross. The charge will show up on your phone bill.