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Last modified: Wednesday, January 27, 2010

'Cram the Container': IU Haiti relief effort

What: "Cram the Container!" Hoosier Haiti Relief
When: Now through Feb. 13
Special collections dates: Feb. 10, 2-7 p.m. (focus on IU community) and Feb. 13, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (focus on larger community), South Concourse of Memorial Football Stadium. Collected items can be delivered to the container. The Feb. 10 men's basketball game also will focus on collecting for the relief effort.

Jan. 27, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Organizers of an Indiana University Haiti relief effort say the response from the IU and Bloomington communities already has been strong. As their monetary fundraising efforts continue -- just this week each member of the IU women's basketball team donated her pre-game meal money -- they have shifted the focus to a material aid drive, encouraging donors to help "Cram the Container!" a 1,280-cubic-foot container provided by the university.

Hoosier Haiti Relief

The cargo container, once full, will be shipped to the Dominican Republic, where the contents will be distributed to relief efforts on the ground in Haiti. The shipping logistics will be facilitated by Charles Beeker, director of the Office of Underwater Science in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and an affiliated researcher of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS).

Beeker's experience and contacts with the Dominican Republic government and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will assure effective distribution of the items. The container will be trucked to Miami, and shipped to Haiti. The Dominican Republic will expedite entry of the items through customs, and USAID will coordinate delivery of items by truck and helicopter, in collaboration with other relief agencies.

CLACS, which has been serving as a collections site for relief materials since news of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, will now help coordinate the collection for the cargo container, said Bradley A.U. Levinson, director of the center.

"However, given the enlarged scale of the effort, CLACS is encouraging various organizations, such as schools, churches and residence halls, to conduct their own drives and establish their own provisional collection sites for materials," said Levinson, also an associate professor in the School of Education. "Ongoing fundraising efforts can also be used to convert cash into material items for the shipment. Local businesses can be asked for donations and/or discounts on relevant items."

Haiti Earthquake

Photo by Marco Dormino/United Nations

Relief efforts have transitioned from "rescue" to "recovery and reconstruction."

Levinson said the relief effort has transitioned from "rescue" into "recovery and reconstruction," according to USAID personnel. The greatest need in the coming weeks and months will be for those living in makeshift arrangements. He said most medical supplies, while still needed to replenish stocks, are not as urgent at this time.

The following items sought for donation are listed in order of priority and groups are "strongly encouraged" to focus collections and fundraising on these. Levinson said donated boxes of goods should be carefully inventoried, with the inventory clearly marked on the outside of each box. Different categories of supplies should be packaged separately.

"We urge the community to make donations count," Levinson said. "Please don't send unwanted, damaged or badly worn items."

Disaster relief and recovery:

  • Power (solar, generators)
  • Temporary shelter, including tents, cots, stakes, mosquito nets, duffle bags
  • Solar powered flashlights
  • Ropes, bungee cords, zip ties
  • Large water containers for storing, transporting, dispensing
  • Plastic sheeting/tarps
  • Batteries, flashlights
  • Folding and camping chairs and tables
  • Sleeping bags, sleeping pads/ air mattresses, foot pumps for air mattresses, blankets
  • Sunshades and hats
  • Cooking items, such as pots, pans, utensils, propane stoves (no gas), can openers, fire starters, paper plates/bowls/cups, plastic utensils
  • Small fishing kits
  • Extension cords and worklights/spotlights
  • Hygienic and toiletry kit items
  • Pocket knives, hand saws, multi-purpose tools, hammers, wrenches, pliers, miscellaneous tools, shovels, trowels, scissors, tweezers, duct tape
  • Compasses, work gloves, clothes lines, clothes pins
  • Sewing kits, first aid kits, bug spray, sunscreen, soaps, light sticks, matches, lighters, ziploc bags, aluminum foil, garbage bags
  • Water purification supplies or equipment
  • High-nutrition non-perishable food, including canned food
  • Please note: No clothing. No cookies, candies or other low-nutrition foods. Please pack food items separately from all other items. Canned items will also be lowest priority for now.
  • Medical supplies: Antibiotics, antibacterial liquid soaps, pediatric formulations, analgesics, wound care, bandages, needles and surgery threads, IVs, asthma medicine and tents, orthopedic.
  • Please note: No small quantities of medical supplies, unused personal medications or expired products.

If organizers successfully fill the container and receive too many items, priority will be established and the overflow will be stored for shipment to Haiti in late spring or early summer.

The final loading of the container will occur on Feb. 10 and Feb. 13 at the South Concourse of Memorial Stadium, accessible from 17th Street, Gate 5. Organizations that are collecting items are encouraged to bring their supplies here on the two special loading dates.

If organizations would like to help staff the special drop off sites, the relief effort is looking for volunteers to help from 2-4 p.m. and from 4-7 p.m. on Feb. 10. On Feb. 13, volunteers are needed to help from 9-11 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 1-4 p.m. Organizations or individuals interested in staffing these shifts should write to

Disaster stats, according to media reports:

  • 9 million: Population of Haiti
  • 3 million: Estimated number of people affected by the quake
  • 1 million: Estimated number of displaced people
  • 800,000 to 1 million: People who need temporary shelter
  • 235,000: People who have left Port-au-Prince using free transportation provided by the government. The number who left by private means is undetermined.
  • At least 50: Aftershocks of magnitude 4.5 or higher that have hit Haiti since the Jan. 12 quake

For more information, contact CLACS at 812-855-9097 or More information about IU relief efforts can be found at