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UJC MetroWest raises $100,000 for Haitians
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UJC MetroWest raises $100,000 for Haitians

West Orange residents hold hands at a Jan. 31 vigil in support of relief efforts in Haiti.
West Orange residents hold hands at a Jan. 31 vigil in support of relief efforts in Haiti.

Donors have contributed $100,000 for Haitian relief efforts through United Jewish Communities of MetroWest New Jersey.

UJC MetroWest set up its “Open Mailbox” for Haiti within hours of the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Beyond the direct contributions from donors, MetroWest added $10,000 from a contingency fund designated to help the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee respond to emergencies. The JDC is operating in the neighboring Dominican Republic to provide food, clothing, water, and medicines to Haitians in need.

“One of the things we do best is respond to emergencies,” said UJC MetroWest president Gary Aidekman. “We started at 7:15 the next morning [after the quake], and by 11 o’clock we had a mailbox set up and a communication going out to all of our community to contribute.”

Locally, MetroWest’s Community Relations Committee is taking part in HeartHaiti, a grassroots effort of the Haitian community in West Orange.

HeartHaiti sponsored a Jan. 31 vigil at Liberty Middle School in West Orange, where they collected $2,200 as well as shoes and clothing for needy Haitians.

Because the event took place on a Saturday, CRC members could not attend. But Melanie Roth Gorelick, the group’s associate director, sent a message of support that was read aloud at the gathering.

“We stand in solidarity with the Haitian community and extend our ongoing support during this critical time of need,” the CRC statement said.

“While I know you couldn’t physically attend, your support and comforting words are sufficient to carry us through such a difficult period in the history of our motherland,” responded Sherley Jean-Baptiste, a leader of Heart Haiti, in an e-mail to Gorelick.

“On behalf of the less fortunate citizens of my country, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and would like to maintain our partnership in improving our society one person at a time.”

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