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January 20, 2010

ELCA members, congregations contribute more than $1.2 million for Haiti

Individuals and congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have contributed more than $1.2 million to fund relief efforts of ELCA partner organizations working on the ground in Haiti, said Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director, ELCA Global Mission, in a Jan. 19 conference call.

Malpica Padilla said the figure includes gifts sent to the ELCA through the Web and those contributed by callers using credit cards. Checks that have been sent to the ELCA are not yet included in the total, he said.

"We anticipate we are close to $2 million," he said.

Funds sent to the ELCA are being channeled through three partner organizations for earthquake relief in Haiti, said Malpica Padilla. Recipients include:

• The Lutheran World Federation, Geneva, working through Action by Churches Together to provide shelter for people left homeless by the earthquake

Lutheran World Relief, Baltimore, providing material aid such as hygiene kits and materials to be used to care for babies

Church World Service, New York, for construction of temporary water systems and distribution of water purification materials

Financial contributions to support relief efforts in Haiti can be made online or by calling 800-638-3522.

The ELCA announced Jan. 19 it will provide $25,000 to Lutheran Services Florida Inc. (LSF), Tampa, to be used primarily for direct assistance to Haitians coming into the United States as a result of the earthquake, said Kevin A. Massey, director, Lutheran Disaster Response and ELCA Domestic Disaster Response.

LSF is working with the Florida Department of Children and Families to assist Haitians being airlifted to Miami and Orlando, said Sam Sipes, LSF president and chief executive officer. He estimated that 25,000 to 30,000 Haitians will be arriving in the United States through Florida in the next 10 days.

"A number of the people coming in don't speak English; they speak Creole," Sipes explained. "We've been providing interpreter services with several hundred staff and volunteers. We're also providing emergency assistance to individuals to help them meet personal needs."

Most are Americans or Haitians with a family connection in the United States, he said.

LSF expects to play a significant role in planning for the potential arrival in Florida of other evacuees from Haiti, including orphans, Sipes said. With other agencies, LSF is also preparing to help process Haitians already in the United States who will be granted temporary protective status by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, he said.

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