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Donations to ODPEM skyrocket

Published:Monday | January 18, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Nadisha Hunter, Gleaner Writer

Volunteers for the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management's drive to get aid for the Haiti box items outside its Haining Road office yesterday. - Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

USUALLY, IT is burdensome to give up your Sunday family time, but for the many volunteers packing items at the Haining Road-based Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) for the earthquake-ravaged Haiti, it was more of a joy.

"It is a good thing to be able to help the persons who need our help," attorney Jackie Wilcott said as she busily sorted through some clothes.

"It is very important to help, it could have been us and I would have hoped that someone would help us. By the grace of God we were spared, so we have to help others," she added.

Essential items needed

But, while the volunteers were at it with sweat trickling down their faces, several donors swarmed the compound to add to the thousands of items already there.

Director general of ODPEM, Ronald Jackson, lauded the Jamaican people for responding quickly to the call to help their Caribbean neighbour. However, he said there was still a need for more essential items.

"One of the things we are now looking to do is to move the request now towards the priority items which are water, food, medical supplies and money for the medical response and recovery of these people," he told The Gleaner.

Jackson said the donors had so far been tremendous, with more than 200 individuals responding to the Haitians' needs, as well as great help from corporate Jamaica.

Continue giving

He encouraged persons to continue giving.

"We need everybody to come in and contribute," he pleaded.

"It doesn't matter what you have, whether it be only a can of sardine or a case, we will package it. We also hope that persons will donate boxes as we are running out of packaging material," he added.

He said it was a similar story at other locations across the island, as persons were really in the mode to reach out.

While Jackson was not yet able to tell how much money had already been donated, he said ODPEM's relief fund was also a success and should exceed the $1.5-million target it had first set.