A solar-powered flashlight makes a good Valentine for earthquake victims in Haiti.

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After last month’s devastating earthquake in Haiti, it seems fitting to offer Valentine’s Day gifts to the orphaned children and other displaced persons in Haiti. This is not an appeal for candies and cookies, but for items needed desperately by those who have lost everything.

Locally, both the Rogers Park and Evanston communities are home to many Haitian-Americans. According to the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti, located in Evanston, medical-related supplies are the highest priority.

For easier distribution, please place items in clear plastic bags with a zippered seal. Suggested items include adult-sized and child-sized toothbrushes, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, water purification tablets, Latex gloves, medical masks, baby wipes, feminine products, pain killers, peroxide, alcohol swabs, bandages and gauze, ointment (Neosporin), saline solution, Ensure and energy/nutrition bars.

Higher-end extras such as solar-powered flashlights, wind-up solar-powered radios and stainless steel or aluminum water bottles are needed as well. There is an extreme need for tents. Bear in mind that it is critical that only non-perishable goods be donated. Bags will be stored for an indefinite time, and no one wants to worry about spoilage or pests.

Bags can be dropped off at the Haitian Congress facility, 1227 Dodge Ave. (a few buildings south of Dempster on the east side of Dodge). The Haitian Congress offices are in the lower level with the entrance off the north side of the building. You may pull into the driveway for a brief period, but there is no exit from the driveway other than Dodge Avenue.

Volunteers staff the Haitian Congress during these hours: Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Donors will be responsible for delivering their own Valentine gift bags. Please bring donations only when the facility is open – do not leave materials at the door. Drop off bags by 5 p.m. on Feb. 13.

Alternatively, make checks payable to Haitian Crisis Relief Fund and mail toHaitian Congress to Fortify Haiti, 1227 Dodge Ave., Evanston, IL 60202. Donations are accepted also online at www.haitiancongress.org.

Aline Lauture, executive director of the Haitian Congress, said “Donated funds are being used to buy tents, dialysis machines and other medical/surgical equipment needed to provide relief on the ground. Administrative use of funds is minimal.”

Ms. Lauture added that “everyone who brings donations to the Haitian Congress office is asked to sign a donation list. We will make every effort acknowledge all donations.”

Be aware that these gifts may not be delivered by Valentine’s Day. Calling these vitally needed items “Valentines” is a symbolic gesture to indicate love for humankind, especially those in distress. As news media have reported, the Port-Au-Prince airport and other entries into Haiti are still impassable. A cargo plane will deliver cartons of donated supplies when it is feasible to do so.

There is another option for giving solar-powered flashlights. SunNight Solar Inc., a Houston-based company, manufacturers BoGo Light. The company has partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative Light Haiti Project to provide BoGo Lights to Haitians. For more information and to donate a BoGo Light, visit:www.lighthaiti.org or www.bogolight.com.

Brighten the lives of people who truly need help—donate a Valentine Gift bag, donate funds or buy a BoGo Light. Thank you for sharing.

Contact Eco Gal at info@evanstonroundtable.com or ecogal247@yahoo.com.