Monday, March 1, 2010

Responding to the Earthquake in Chile

As the world knows, the South American Country of Chile suffered one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded on Saturday. The 8.8 magnitude quake was 501 times stronger than the January earthquake that hit Haiti. Anyone who watched the news this weekend saw the destruction it involved. Thankfully, the death toll from this earthquake is expected to be far less than in Haiti because it didn't hit a major population center and affected a highly developed country with resources, strong building codes that saved countless lives, and a stable democratic government.

I know the beauty and appeal of Chile firsthand, as I was fortunate to spend a college semester in the southern Chilean town of Valdivia in 1998. My heart goes out the warm, passionate (read anything by poet Pablo Neruda and you'll know what I mean), and caring people of that great country.

If you would like to help the Chilean people rebuild and recover, we at the BBB remind you to give wisely by following these tips:

1. Be cautious when giving online. Be highly skeptical of unsolicited personal emails sent to your inbox from persons claiming to be quake victims. Give only through secure online portals.

2. Find out if the charity you are considering donating to has an on-the-ground presence in impacted areas.

3.Find out if the charity is providing direct aid, or merely raising money for other groups. You may just want to skip the middleman.

4. When giving gifts of clothing, food, or other in-kind donations, make sure the charity that is processing your donation has a way to transport and distribute those goods. Chile is much farther from the US than Haiti and I suspect that donations of in-kind goods from Kansas City would be somewhat impractical.

For a list of BBB Accredited Charities that provide international relief aid, check out this list. Please note that the BBB has not yet verified whether these charities are specifically providing aid in Chile, so please contact your favorite organization before donating.

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