Donations to Haiti relief take high tech turn

January 15, 2010 3:57:47 PM PST
The donations just keep pouring in for the earthquake victims in Haiti. An amazing amount of money has been raised by private citizens, who are contributing relatively small amounts, with $10 donations adding up to more than $7 million. This disaster is really showing the power of technology and how it can be used to help those in need. You can still donate by dropping off money at the American Red Cross offices, that's what Michael Nwanze is doing.

"We are all one," he said. "Whatever happened to them can happen to us here. We are all here to help each other."

Typically in the days after a disaster, the lobby at Houston's Red Cross would be packed. This time traffic seems light, but that does not mean the donations are down.

Susy Smith with the Red Cross said, "The texting messages have had huge success already."

Cell phone users who text the word "Haiti" to the number 90999 donate $10 to the relief effort and so far more than $7 million has been raised this way. The amount donated does not surprise technology expert Jay Lee, the host of Technology Bytes.

"Not the least bit surprised. I think it is an incredibly powerful thing that is going on," he said.

Lee says social media followers could do little when unrest broke out in Iran, but the Haitian disaster is another story.

"People are given a tool to actually take action and make a difference, offer support and help to the people in Haiti right now," he explained.

Lee says Twitter and Facebook users are helping to make the text drive so successful.

He said, "By using this medium to broadcast to the word or their friends they are doing something. Twitter is like 'I am having a sandwich, I am giving money to those who are suffering in Haiti.' Wow, that's huge."

The Haitian text effort is getting crowded, now a half dozen numbers have been set up, so it is important to check out any text related donation to make sure it's legitimate.

Today there are even more ways to help. Continental Airlines is allowing OnePass members to donate miles to aid groups traveling to Haiti for the relief effort and Hilton Hotels is matching rewards points donated to earthquake relief with a cash donation from the company.