Money collected for Haiti relief at MLK Unity Rally - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Money collected for Haiti relief at MLK Unity Rally

Deloris Guttman Deloris Guttman
Patrick Elie Patrick Elie

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Even in these tough economic times, Hawaii residents always find a way to help others in need. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Rally in Waikiki on Monday included a fundraiser for the people of Haiti.

From bongo playing to colorful cultural wear to ono ethnic food, it was a lively celebration in memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. But not far from the minds of the thousands gathered at Kapiolani Park was the plight of the earthquake victims in Haiti.

"It just saddens my heart, but our ancestral spirit are one," Deloris Guttman, African American Diversity Cultural Center, said. "We are reaching out to them with our heart, our prayers, our money."

Several young men with Haitian ties walked through the crowd, proudly displaying the flag of their homeland and asking people to donate to the American Red Cross' disaster relief effort.

"Anything anyone can give, a penny, 25 cents, 50 cents, is always good," Patrick Elie, a native of Haiti, said. "So far we've been doing pretty well."

Elie, a Hawaii resident, was born and raised in Haiti.

"Places that I used to go, buildings that I used to go into, I see them on TV and they're down," he said. "The roads are messed up. It's very hard. It's terrible."

The 30-year-old is still waiting for word on some of his loved ones, including his father.

"We tried to get in contact with him," Elie said. "We have news that somebody saw him, but he still never called home. So we're still waiting on confirmation that he's ok."

Organizers of the Unity Rally, which featured a variety of entertainment and informational booths, say this year's turnout may be the largest in its 22-year history. They say it just made sense to try to raise money for Haiti at the event.

"We appreciate Hawaii for helping and donating to help out," Elie said. "My prayers are with all the families that lost someone over there."

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Coalition in Hawaii says the money raised for Haiti is still being counted, but it believes it did meet its goal of $5,000.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly