Living in California AND the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm always sensitive to earthquakes, and yesterday's 7.0 earthquake in Haiti is no exception. The '89 Loma Prieta earthquake - which I experienced and hope to never experience that magnitude every again - was 7.1 (depending on who you're talking to). A 7.0 earthquake in a such a poor country is more than the equivalent of "The Big One" that we all talk about in the Bay Area. I can barely imagine what they're going through right now in Haiti.
But what I can do from afar is help, And if you want to help out, you can, too! There are many, many ways to do so. If you're able to give money - any amount - you can do so online, quickly and safely, via any number of relief agencies. You can find any number of relief organizations via a Google search, but your own local churches, schools, etc. often pull together donations from the community. I tend to give to trusted medical missions or medical organizations, given my healthcare background, but if you want and are able to give, you can do so in a very specific way (e.g., education, medical) or just to a general fun.
Often, people want to donate goods to those affected by a disaster, but most (probably all) relief agencies accept money rather than goods. But, you can often donate goods to auctions and similar efforts to raise funds for the disaster. For instance, Indie Fixx (very popular indie lifestyle and shopping blog) is arranging a silent auction of handmade goods, with proceeds going to Haiti Relief. Other handmade sites and communities may be arranging similar efforts, and I'll bet that similar efforts are being arranged right within your community.
If you own a business and are able to, you might want to donate some percentage of proceeds to Haiti Relief. Maybe some percentage of a particular item or even 100% of proceeds from a particular item sold during a specified period of time.
If you don't own a business, perhaps you can bid on or purchase items or services that will benefit Haiti (and other disaster relief funds). I'll post a link to Indie Fixx when the silent auction goes live. I'll bet that a group of folks will start a Haiti Disaster Relief shop on Etsy, which I'll also post a link to (if it happens). If you search for "haiti relief" on Etsy right now, you'll find hundreds of items that will generate funds toward relief funds.
Please know that my intent here is not to tell you what to do! I'm only providing some suggestions and resources for those able, and with the desire, to help in this horrendous situation. The handmade community is a very caring group of people - I know that many of us are hurting right now thinking about the nightmare in Haiti.
I'm honored to be part of Indie Fixx's silent auction - I'll let you know when my item is up for bid! I'm also donating 100% of proceeds from my Phydeaux Twist Cowl knitting pattern to relief funds.
Please share in the comments if you know of other opportunities or venues for folks to help from afar!