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Donation drive for Haiti draws strong support in Boston

Mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell helps unload supplies during a drive for Haiti hosted by The Freedom Fighters Coalition and Violence in Boston.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Even before organizers of a relief drive for Haiti arrived at Almont Park in Mattapan on Tuesday, people had gathered with bags of food, hygiene products, clothes, and cases of bottled water.

The Violence in Boston truck arrived and founder Monica Cannon-Grant and her two daughters began sorting donations into bins to be shipped to the Caribbean island devastated by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake over the weekend.

City Councilor and mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell arrived minutes later and seamlessly, an assembly line took form.

“In addition to holding up Haiti in our prayers and our thoughts, there are a whole host of ways to support the relief efforts. This is one of them,” said Campbell, who represents parts of Dorchester and Mattapan, where many Haitian families live.

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Violence in Boston partnered with the Freedom Fighter’s Coalition to gather materials to be sent to friends and family in Haiti facing displacement as their country is once again plunged into chaos and grief. Nearly 2,000 people died, and thousands more were injured in the massive earthquake that also toppled homes and businesses, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Massachusetts residents were quick to respond to the urgent need for humanitarian relief. People donated bags full of supplies and tearfully thanked organizers. Some residents helped unload other people’s cars.

Nadia Clancy, who works with the Community Coalition for Change in East Bridgewater, arrived with a van load of supplies to donate to a drive for Haiti hosted by The Freedom Fighters Coalition and Violence in Boston. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Nadia Clancy arrived in a red minivan packed full of water, food, and a huge stack of T-shirts hung neatly on plastic hangers. Clancy, who drove from East Bridgewater, is a member of the nonprofit Community Coalition for Change.

She has several aunts and cousins living in Port au Prince. Although they weren’t directly impacted, she still worries for their safety. Joining in and seeing aid efforts in Massachusetts helps ease her anxiety, she said.

“The people in Haiti are so resilient, but they’ve been through so much,” said Clancy, who learned about the donation drive on social media. “It’s heartwarming to see people coming together.”

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Helen Dajer of Jamaica Plain had the day off and filled two bags with medical supplies that had been lying around her house.

“I’m from Puerto Rico, so Haiti is a neighbor,” Dajer said, adding that while her family was safe during Hurricane Maria, she knows what it’s like to have natural disasters threaten a loved one’s safety. “My heart goes out to them. We have to all take care of each other.”

Campbell also said there’s an urgent need for support.

“Because of the things that are happening on the island, we need to create safe spaces here [in Boston],” she said, adding that the onslaught of tragic events have been “devastating” and led to “emotional and trying times” for many of her constituents.

In addition to Campbell, other politicians helped out, including Will Dickinson, candidate for city councilor of district 4, David Halbert, candidate for city councilor at large, and Ben Downing, a Democratic candidate for governor.

Ernst Jean-Jacques, of Haverhill, helped to sort through the supplies donated to a supply drive for Haiti hosted by The Freedom Fighters Coalition and Violence in Boston. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Ernst Jean-Jacques, leader of Freedom Fighter’s Coalition, the city’s leading Black liberation group, said he was surprised by how many people came out.

His father immigrated from Haiti as a teenager, but Jean-Jacques said “You don’t have to be Haitian to see that what they’re going through is messed up and know they need some assistance . . . The goal is just to get this stuff to as many people as we can.”

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Cannon-Grant echoed this sentiment.

“When we say Black lives matter, we mean all Black lives matter. You don’t get to pick and choose,” she said.

Violence in Boston and Freedom Fighters Coalition are still accepting financial donations on their GoFundMe page, which has garnered nearly $4,000 in just three days.




Julia Carlin can be reached at julia.carlin@globe.com.