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Be A Hero For Haiti

Today is Sunday, January 17, 2010. As you all know, Haiti was hit with several terribly large earthquakes, beginning on Tuesday, January 12. (The most recent earthquake was a 4.6 magnitude quake, about 10 hours ago.) Thousands upon thousands of people have been killed, and even more have been injured. Families have been torn apart, children have been orphaned, and lives have been thrown into chaos.

I just got off the phone with Jimmy Jean-Louis, the Heroes actor who portrays René "The Haitian". Many of you saw his YouTube video, and were touched by his earnest plea for help. Jimmy has been in Haiti for one day now. To speak with him, was both heart-wrenching and inspiring. He called the devastation "shocking, terrible. I can't find words to describe this absolute disaster."

He went on to describe the scene with some horrific details. Of the destruction of Port-au-Prince, he said, "You see dead people everywhere. There are dead and burned people around every corner. Tens of thousands of people. You can smell dead bodies left, right, and center. And this is reality. The entire place is pretty much gone. Every single thing that keeps the city going--every building, every landmark, every infrastructure--is gone. Imagine New York City or where ever you are from, and imagine everything gone and destroyed. That's how it is here. We have to start all over again."

I told Jimmy that there are lots of fans of Heroes who want to help. He said the easiest way to help is to make a cash donation. "This way, we can starting cleaning. Donations will help people who have been hurt. Donations will help put homeless people into shelters. Donations will put food in people's hands. Donations will get people on their feet again." Jimmy has been public about donating through the organizations Hollywood Unites For Haiti and Haitian Hero. After having spent the day in Haiti, Jimmy also advocated for people to work with Pan American Development Foundation. Donations can be made on the toll-free number 877-572-4484.

I asked Jimmy what people can do if they don't have money to give. Touchingly, he said, "I encourage people to be heroes themselves, in whatever way they can." He explained that people should not give in-kind donations yet, but should work with relief organizations who are already on the ground. He also said it's not feasible to have people volunteer to come to Haiti because "no planes should land or take off. Nobody can control the air. The airport was damaged." He urged people to give whatever they can, "even if it is just a few pennies." But if people can't give more, Jimmy suggested that they "spread the word. Get the information out and keep spreading the word. They should get the message out to people who do have the means to give. But in the end, just think and pray for Haiti."