Since the destructive earthquake that struck Haiti last month, The Haverhill Gazette and other local media have written about the efforts of individuals, families, groups, organizations, businesses and clubs to raise money and collect goods for the victims.
The local Rotary Club raised $6,000 through its own members' contributions to buy and send six "ShelterBoxes" to Haiti. The boxes, put together by an international agency, are one of the many charities supported by Rotary International. The boxes, which look like large plastic recycling bins with lids, hold a tent and other essential equipment that an extended family or group of 10 people can use when they are displaced or homeless.
Each box costs $1,000. Rotarians, including those from Haverhill, continue to collect to buy more ShelterBoxes and have set up a kiosk in the Mall Rockingham Park in Salem, N.H., to collect donations from shoppers.
While the Rotarians' ShelterBox collection appears to be the largest organized effort, there is no shortage ways residents are stepping up to give.
A group of Tilton School students started a change collection that raised more than $300 in the early days after the quake.
Business owner Margot Lindau collected for Partners In Health, an international organization that staffs and runs hospitals in Haiti.
Several Girl Scouts who attend the Nettle School in Haverhill, raised more than $300 in an "iPod Day" collection. School Principal Renata Bateman allowed students to listen to their iPods in school for the day, in exchange for a $2 donation to the Scouts' collection.
The Chatson family of Haverhill has organized a Kids for Haiti roller skating fundraiser at Skateland, 19 Railroad Ave., in Bradford.
Four-year-old Tyler Kirby set up a collection box at his preschool and asked classmates to donate to those displaced by the quake.
Without doubt there are countless residents who have written checks or texted their $10 donations through their cell phone carriers.
Over the past couple of years, much has been made of the financial crisis that has forced many families to cut back on discretionary spending and to scale back their standards of living.
Others have been hit harder, losing homes because of lost jobs or predatory mortgages.
But the images from the aftermath of the earthquake reminded us all that even though these are financially difficult days, we in Haverhill — Massachusetts, New England, the United States of America — are blessed beyond measure with stable government, industry and volunteer organization that maintain myriad services to meet the needs of nearly every one of us, no matter our current level of need.
The difference between our discomfort and the true desperation of the Haitian people is obvious, as is Haverhill's generous spirit.