Helping Haiti

As the devastation and loss of life from this week’s massive earthquake in Haiti continues to sink in, the travel industry and the general public are doing their part to contribute to relief efforts. One of our favorite home-based agents, Michelle Mangio of Magical Escapes in Attleboro, MA, just posted on her Facebook page that she will donate $10 from every trip booked in January. We’re sure many other agents and agencies are undertaking similar efforts—let us know, and we’ll help get the word out.

For those interested in helping immediately, simply text 'HAITI' to '90999' and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell-phone bill. That effort has raised and estimated $5 million since it kicked off Tuesday night. Or you can go online to organizations like the Red Cross to make a contribution to the disaster relief efforts.

In the days following the quake, many large global companies—among them, some of the leading suppliers in the travel industry—have stepped up with inspiring aid programs. Virgin Atlantic, for example, is flying much-needed aid along with key medical personnel, aid agency workers and rescue teams to the region. The aid and personnel will be flown out on a number of Virgin Atlantic flights to Miami, Orlando and Jamaica over the coming days. From there the aid agencies will arrange for the essential supplies to be transferred to Haiti. The airline has already committed to flying a minimum of 55 tons of cargo.

Included in the aid being flown to the region are hundreds of ShelterBoxes, which will help to meet the pressing and immediate need of providing shelter for thousands on the island. Each ShelterBox contains a disaster relief tent for up to 10 people, a stove, blankets and other items essential for survival. These boxes will be distributed through international volunteer ShelterBox Response Team members who work with local aid agencies on the ground to deliver emergency shelter to those in greatest need.

"Everyone who has seen the sheer destruction in Haiti over the last few days will have been moved to help in any way they can,” said Virgin Atlantic president Richard Branson. "We will fly in as much aid as possible so that the agencies on the ground can respond to the needs of everyone in Haiti whose lives have been devastated by this tragedy."

Visit TravelAgentCentral for updates on aid efforts from the travel industry, and let us know of any programs you’ve heard about or are doing yourself.

Our prayers go out to the people of Haiti.

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