Village shop sponsors Yele Haiti
The South Orange Yele Haiti Donation Center has been a hot topic on Wyclef Jean’s personal blog lately. The founder and rapper has posted volunteer opportunities and walkthrough videos of the shop that doubles as a donation center.
Yele Haiti is one of the premier organizations helping gather funds and donations for those suffering in Haiti.
The foundation was created prior to the earthquake to “use music, sports and the media to reinforce projects that are making a difference in education, health, environment and community development,” according to the Web site for the foundation.
The center was originally a customized furniture store owned by Jean’s wife, Claudinette, according to Rose Jean, Wyclef Jean’s youngest sister and employee of the Yele Haiti Donation Center.
According to Rose Jean, Claudinette Jean needed a place for the items to go because there was such a huge response following the earthquake.
“The day after the earthquake, this place was flooded with people,” Rose Jean said.
The center accepts many different items such as shoes, toys, clothes, feminine hygiene products, diapers, crayons, medical supplies and wheelchairs. Items are sorted and inspected for damage, as well as for cleanliness.
Since opening in January, the center has received over 2,600 boxes of items, according to Rose Jean. The center has about 50 volunteers who sort through boxes, pack items and create care bags for men, women, children and babies.
“People really care. People still care. Everyday we get donations, whether it’s a big shipment or a bag of clothing,” Rose Jean said.
However, despite the influx of donations, the center can always use more volunteers.
“Getting volunteers is like pulling teeth. People are starting to forget, and we don’t want that,” Rose Jean said. “This can’t be fixed in days or months. They will need help for years.”
Volunteers do many tasks in the center, including putting together care bags that get sent to Haiti. A typical day at the center depends on how many donations are received, according to Rose Jean. Items are usually packed as soon as they arrive; however, a bigger donation may take a few days to completely pack.
Almost everything that has gone to Haiti through the Yele Foundation has come through the South Orange store, however, Yele does have two other stores in Miami and on Long Island.
According to Rose Jean, a lot of Seton Hall students have visited the center, though more help is always needed and welcome.
Manpower is especially needed to help load containers into trucks so that they may be shipped to Haiti, Rose Jean said.
“Our goal is to send one or two containers a week,” Rose Jean said. “The more people we have, the faster the items will get to Haiti.”
Rose Jean has been to Haiti before and said she plans on visiting again soon. However, she said she is scared to go because she is so sensitive to the plight of other individuals.
“My brother [Wyclef] calls it a ‘battlezone.’ He told me if you’re not ready for that, then continue to do what you’re doing here,” Rose Jean said.”It might be tiring work, but it’s rewarding. They need help out there. It could have been any one of us.”
Jessica Sutcliffe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.