Local support for victims of Haiti quake shows size of Valley's heart

Over and over again the people of the Walla Walla Valley have demonstrated their kindness and caring for others.

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The Walla Walla Valley is a community with a big heart.

Whenever someone in the community is going through a tough time, whether an illness, accident or any kind of tragedy, people here take extraordinary action to help.

So it's hardly a surprise that when Haiti was devastated by an earthquake that left more than 100,000 dead and the nation in ruins, folks in this Valley quickly responded.

"Walla Wallans have shown a tremendous amount of generosity as the news of the tragic earthquake in Haiti continues to unfold," said Terry Hackney, executive director of the local American Red Cross.

Donations through the Blue Mountain Chapter of the Red Cross were over $7,000 about a week ago. That represents just a small amount of what has been donated locally as there are various campaigns going on across the nation -- and the world -- to collect funds to help the people of Haiti.

Hackney is seeing many first-time donors coming through the door at the Red Cross office on Park Street.

"They are not the usual faces and they feel a compelling reason to give," he said.

And just after the Haiiti quake local restaurant owners came together to help raise money for the victims.

Seven Walla Walla restaurants agreed to donate five percent of their sales for one month to the Hungry For Haiti fundraiser to provide food and other needs for earthquake victims. Participating restaurants include Someone's In The Kitchen, Brasserie Four, The Marc, T. Maccarone's, Jacobi's Cafe, Salumiere Cesario and Sweet Basil Pizzeria.

"We have been so blessed by this community; this community has really supported us and we just felt like paying it forward for people in need," said Katie Gonzalez, co-owner of Someone's In The Kitchen.

Glencorrie Winery hosted a Haiti relief last weekend.

Four local doctors volunteered to go to Haiti on a five-day mission. They left Monday.

The Vista Hermosa Foundation, which was started by the Broetje family and uses profits from Broetje Orchards to help people in need, committed $400,000 to four separate organizations providing disaster relief in Haiti.

In addition, the Vista Hermosa Foundation, through its Young Givers Program, will match any funds raised by youths and donated to World Vision, Food for the Poor, Beyond Borders and Haiti Partners. That's a wonderful approach as it motivates young people to reach out and see the value of helping others.

Although, that lesson has clearly been taught by parents over and over for generations.

The outpouring of support for the people of Haiti, including many quiet, unnoticed efforts, is yet another example of the generosity of this community.

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