Local groups raise millions for Haiti relief – News-Press

Tucked away in a business development in Gateway is a long-time nonprofit Christian humanitarian organization called Love A Child, which last year received $42 million in donations for relief efforts in Haiti.
Those efforts have increased after Hurricane Matthew killed almost 1,000 people earlier this month, wiping out communities, leveling trees and escalating cases of cholera.
Missionaries Sherry and Bobby Burnette, co-founders of Love A Child, have lived full-time in Haiti since 1991. According to assistant executive director Rad Hazelip, the Burnettes are guided by Mathew 25 and Psalms 41, which says their work is what God expects us to do for each other.
Thanks to the Burnettes’ work, there are more than 8,000 youths in 23 schools in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In addition, about 56,000 Haitians are benefiting from vaccines, vitamins and their ministry.
“Fort Myers is our world headquarters,” Hazelip said. “We implement programs, comprehensive relief while developing a ministry for over 25 years. There’s outreach, an orphanage, schools as well as medical, agricultural training and feeding programs.”
The Burnettes have a TV show on WRX TV that can be seen Sundays and Mondays. They talk about the conditions in Haiti, the immense challenges and progress being made.
Hazelip said the $42 million comes from donors from Australia, India, England and virtually every state in the U.S. A 40-foot ocean container is sent to Haiti every month, although Hazelip said two of those containers have been sent every month recently.
“While $42 million seems like a lot to send to Haiti … the need is always much greater than the resources we have to share with our neighbors in Haiti,” he said. “There is always more we can do.”
Charity Navigator has given Love A Child three- and four-star ratings.
The Burnettes’ headquarters began in Merritt Island in 1985, before moving to Naples, Tampa, then Fort Myers in 2011.
Knott Ebelini Hart became a big local donor when a charity drive last from Oct. 10-14 led to six carloads of food, tarps, shovels, pick axes, buckets, blankets and towels going to the Love A Child offices. They also received $500 in donations, while Lee County Bar Association members donated money directly to Love A Child.
“I was surprised everyone was so willing to help out,” said associate attorney Kristie Scott, who ran the idea by managing attorney George Knott. “We never had a goal in mind. We just wanted to do something as opposed to sitting by and waiting for somebody to do something.”
Scott heard about Love a Child through Joshua Solow with Regions Bank. Local businesses also made donations, as did Goodwill of Southwest Florida.
Another local group that works with Love A Child is Passion Rescue Mission, which works with Mt. Hermon Ministries. There is a school for grades K-6, which helps teach 225 students, tuition free. There are 12 teachers and a principal. After being connected to Love a Child, Passion Rescue Mission has been able to give youths a meal every day.
Genese Vertus, born and reared in Haiti, became a first responder when an earthquake devastated Haiti in 2010 and when Hurricane Matthew hit. He’ll make another trip to Haiti from Nov. 12-17.
Recently, Mt. Hermon and Passion Rescue Mission had a yard sale that raised $1,071.
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The following is a list of charities involved in Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts in Haiti or the United States. Available financial ratings from Charity Navigator, an independent watchdog group that evaluates charities, or financial documents are included.
Love A Child
See loveachild.com to donate. The Christian, faith-based group in Gateway establishes churches, repairs and builds houses and runs a program to help Haitians break the poverty cycle, according to its website. Love A Child also has an orphanage. Founders Bobby and Sherry Burnette have lived in Haiti since 1991.
Overall Charity Navigator Rating: 3/4
Samaritan’s Purse
The First Presbyterian of Bonita Springs is among local churches, which contributes to Samaritan’s Purse.
Overall Charity Navigator Rating: 4/4
New Missions Systems International
Based in Fort Myers, NMSI was founded in 1989. Over the past 25 years, NMSI missionaries have spread to 39 countries.
Overall Charity Navigator Rating: 3/4
Hope for Haiti
See hopeforhaiti.com to donate money or look at the critical supply list. You also can call 239-434-7183.
Overall Charity Navigator Rating: 4/4
One Blood
See oneblood.org to find a donation center near you. You must be at least 16 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds to donate.
Overall Charity Navigator Rating: N/A (Financial statements are available online)
Place of Hope in Haiti
See placeofhopeinhaiti.org or facebook.com/placeofhopeinhaiti/. The non-profit operates an orphanage in southwest Haiti, where Hurricane Matthew struck hardest. The charity is collecting funds to help others, and its own orphanage sustained damage, according to the group.
Overall Charity Navigator Rating: N/A (2014 financial statement is available online.)
Partners in Health
See pih.org to donate. Partners in Health, an international organization that provides health care to people living in poverty, operates 12 clinics and hospitals in Haiti.
Overall Charity Navigator Rating: 4/4
How to help people affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti and the United States
Food for the Poor
See foodforthepoor.org for ways to donate. Food for the Poor, a faith-based charity, provides food and housing for people living in poverty in Latin American and Caribbean countries, including Haiti, Dominican Republic and Jamaica.
Overall Charity Navigator Rating: 3/4
See unitedway.org to donate and support 211, a hotline that connects people in North America to local resources, including disaster relief.
Overall Charity Navigator Rating: 3/4
UNICEF (United States Fund)
See unicefusa.org for donation information. UNICEF estimated it has to spend at least $5 million to meet the most pressing needs of the about 500,000 children affected in the southern region of Haiti.
Overall Charity Navigator Rating: 3/4
American Red Cross
See redcross.org or download the emergency app for information about evacuation efforts in the United States. You can make a donation by going to the website, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word MATTHEW to make a $10 donation. The Red Cross opened nearly 200 shelters in three states, including 133 in Florida, according to a news release.
Overall Charity Navigator Rating: 3/4
Catholic Relief Services
See crs.org to make a donation to help the group distribute blankets, kitchen and hygiene kits and other emergency supplies as needed, as well as monitor potential outbreaks of cholera and other diseases.
Overall Charity Navigator Rating: 3/4
Maryann Batlle contributed to this story.


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