Radio station, Red Cross raise aid for Haiti

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

DULUTH -- A local Spanish radio station is teaming up with the American Red Cross to help provide aid to victims of Haiti's devastating earthquake.

Officials from La Raza 102.3-FM, based in Suwanee, contacted the ACS metro Atlanta chapter to see what they could do to help. After some brain storming, what they came up with is a series of three fundraising events, DJ'ed live.

In the pouring rain Saturday, disc jockeys and Red Cross volunteers collected $2,500 at the Buford Farmer's Market.

Tuesday, they set up at Mexican supermarket Supermercardo Tapatio in Duluth, pulling in another $1,500 for the relief effort.

Laurie Ann Kimbrell, Red Cross community relations officer, said 102.3 is known for its philanthropic efforts, helping out during Hurricane Katrina and the recent Georgia floods.

"The station has been wonderful," she said. "They reached out and we're glad they picked the Red Cross (to partner with)."

Promotions Director Christian Hernandez said Gwinnett's Hispanic population looks to La Raza to help give them the news. In times like these, the station's airwaves and Web site are valuable tools in sending the SOS.

"The Red Cross is known worldwide and, as a station, we are very community based," Hernandez said.

After dropping a donation into the Red Cross bucket, Rigo Vasquez said his home country of Guatemala has been rocked by earthquakes in the past. While he couldn't donate a lot of money, he said, he wanted to give something.

"Years ago, same thing happened in Guatemala, so donation comes from the heart," Vasquez said.

Records show a 1976 quake killed more than 23,000 around Guatemala City. The death toll in Haiti could hit nearly 10 times that, according to reports.

For Enrique Rivas, it wasn't so much a horrific experience that prompted him to donate, but the threat of one.

"I donated just to help out our brothers in Haiti," Rivas said through a translator. "You never know what could happen to us one day and when someone will help us out."

David Camargo and Rosa Patino are still recovering from Sept. 21, 2009, when their mobile home was flooded. The trailer was destroyed, all their personal possessions lost.

The Red Cross helped them when no one else would or could, Patino said, so she and Camargo -- thankful to be alive with their two small children -- felt compelled to make a donation Tuesday that will help someone nearly 2,000 miles away.

"We're not really OK, but we're still alive," Patino said. "I think you have to suffer to know how it feels."

The third fundraiser is scheduled for noon Saturday inside the Gwinnett Place Mall, Kimbrell said.