By Lindsey Iorg
As the devastation in Asia continues to unveil, local relief organizations said cash donations provide the greatest hope for tsunami victims by eliminating shipping time and stimulating bleak economies.
?Money is a lot easier to ship,? said Garr Judd, executive director for the Mountain Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. ?Although the humanitarian kits are great, they take time to assemble?and time to unload and distribute. With cash donations we?re able to go over to that area and purchase those items and get them into the hands of the victims much quicker.?
While many countries in southern Asia will lose money from a decrease in tourism, buying supplies in countries where the devastation is occurring is a step to rebuilding the country.
?It puts some dollars into the local economy where that disaster has occurred which is an important component of getting back on their feet,? Judd said.
With the new semester at BYU, campus organizations are focusing on creating greater opportunities for students to join the community and national tsunami relief efforts. The Center for Service and Learning hopes to unify and build a stronger relief effort by directing interested students to the American Red Cross where they can make monetary donations, said Erin Pierce, student coordinator at the Center for Service and Learning.
?Money can be used for supplies overseas,? said Pierce, a junior from Salt Lake City. ?Spending the money where it is needed will stimulate their economy.?
With monetary donations, the American Red Cross and the LDS Humanitarian Services can buy the appropriate items, said Carri Jenkins, BYU university spokesperson.
?Right now the need is for financial assistance,? Jenkins said ?We are encouraging students [to donate] if they can and even small donations are welcome.?
Utah Valley?s response to the disaster is part of a global effort to mend the devastation caused by the tsunamis. At the Mountain Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, Judd said it has been heartwarming to see donations from the local community.
?Those people [in southern Asia] didn?t have a lot to begin with,? Judd said. ?To have the earthquake and tsunamis take everything they had?I don?t think we can fully comprehend it and we feel that in comparison we have so much.?
In a statement issued by the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members were encouraged to generously donate money to support humanitarian aid for victims in southern Asia. According to a press release on the Church?s Web site, the Church has begun a four-pronged relief effort to aid disaster victims and affected countries, beginning by initial assessment and in-country purchases.
The American Red Cross is accepting donations and said community members can donate in Provo at 865 N. Freedom Blvd or through the national Web site at www.redcross.org.
?Any amount, however large or however small is welcome,? Judd said. ?When it?s pooled together it makes a huge project.?