Photo: ingro.comagenciadenoticias2.0

Matador is mobilizing our travel community to help earthquake victims in Haiti.
Please donate now to support relief efforts:

– UNICEF. Go online to unicefusa.org/haitiquake or call (800) 4UNICEF.

– Red Cross. Go online to redcross.org, or call (800) REDCROSS.

– Direct Relief International. Donate online at directrelief.org.

– Mercy Corp. Go online to mercycorps.org or mail checks to Haiti Earthquake Fund, Dept. NR, PO Box 2669, Portland, Ore. 97208 or call (888) 256-1900

[UPDATE AS OF 1/13/2010 at 11:55 EST is that we're in the process of partnering with Red Cross on the ground and are waiting to hear from Jet Blue this afternoon. Please continue to show your support by tweeting: Critical #Haiti update: @JetBlue is currently working on logistics. Stay tuned. THANK YOU @JetBlue. We can do this!] [UPDATE AS OF 1/13/2010 at 11:49 EST is HERE] Earlier today, an earthquake registering 7.0 on the Richter scale struck the capital of Haiti, with a series of aftershocks as strong as 5.5 rattling Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas. As of this writing [9:45 PM EST], the full scope of damage has not been determined; however, the collapse of a hospital and extensive structural devastation suggests that the death toll may be high.

We’ve already been contacted by Matador readers and community members who want to know how they can help.

At present, we are working to coordinate a trip to Haiti via the Dominican Republic for Matador readers and members who want to contribute as volunteers in the post-earthquake recovery. It’s a huge effort and will depend to a large extent on the goodwill and quick response time of travelers and travel industry leaders.

Logistics include arranging transportation and lodging, as well as determining the best organization to partner with in order to contribute our time and skills. These details are being worked on right now.

Specifically, Matador is encouraging JetBlue to provide transportation to Hispaniola (the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic) via a Twitter campaign. Our request is being taken to JetBlue’s corporate relations department for their consideration.

In the meantime, we need your help. Here’s what you can do:

1. Spread the word via Twitter

Though JetBlue’s resident Twitter peep has agreed to carry our request to corporate relations, we want to show JetBlue we have a critical mass of people willing and ready to volunteer. If we can fill a plane, will JetBlue fly us there? It doesn’t hurt to ask, right?

Retweet this message:

@JetBlue: If @MatadorNetwork could fill a plane with volunteers, would you fly them to Santo Domingo to help #quake vics in #Haiti?

2. Help us fill a plane!

Could you travel to Haiti to help quake victims? Email me at matadorhaiti@gmail.com to let me know you’d like to be kept up to date about our volunteer project efforts.

And ask your contacts if they’re interested by retweeting this message:

Are you interested in joining @MatadorNetwork to help #quake victims in #Haiti? DM us!

Post a status message on Facebook:

Are you interested in joining MatadorNetwork.com to help earthquake victims in Haiti? Email Julie @ matadorhaiti@gmail.com for more information.

3. Share your contacts and on-the-ground knowledge of the region.

We’ll need lots of help to pull this trip off. If you can help by sharing contacts in Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince who could help with local transportation, food, and lodging, please direct them to matadorhaiti@gmail.com. If you have contacts in the US who could provide much-needed relief supplies, share the same email with them.

4. Spread the word.

If you have a blog or write for a news outlet, spread the word about the way we’re using social media to coordinate this trip. Queries can be directed to me: matadorhaiti@gmail.com.