The Chronicle’s View: Giving a little bit is giving a lot

T he tsunami that struck SouthAsia and reached as far asEast Africa the day afterChristmas has had effects that willlast well beyond many people’slifetimes.The verb “affect” doesn’t beginto appropriately describe thedevastation a huge wall of waterhas wreaked in South Asia. Someislands don’t exist anymore-everybodydied.In other areas, survivors are tryingto rebuild, but there’s nothingto start from. They are piecingtheir lives back together with hugeholes where loved ones belong.All of this goes on while weAmericans sit back. The Bushadministration gave $350 millionto help rebuilding efforts in ninecountries, but that’s not nearlyenough.It’s up to the people of the worldto help those who have been renderedto helplessness.Yes, January in the United Statesis traditionally the lowest salesmonth because everyone is brokefrom the holidays. But Mother Naturefollows her own schedule. It iswrong for us to sit back and say, “Igave to Sub for Santa, so I’ve donemy part.”Plan to take money out of yournext paycheck and put it towardthe cause. The exchange rates areamazingly powerful in nearly all ofthe countries the tsunami devastated.A single U.S. dollar can go along way. In many places, $20 couldprovide medicine to save a tsunamisurvivor from cholera or otherdiseases.While the number of peoplewho perished is staggering, manypredict that number could quicklydouble, as clean water is scarce andwater-borne diseases are floatingeverywhere. It would be a travestyto lose even more people to thetsunami due to our apathy.Those who do donate need tomake sure they do so through theproper channels. If you receivean e-mail from a charity groupsoliciting funds, it is most likely ahoax. However, dozens of legitimateagencies exist that are gladlyaccepting donations. Simply poponline and look them up. Web siteslike evaluatecharities and give hints and tips.On many charities’ Web sites,however, it’s easy as entering acredit-card number through a secureconnection.It will take a huge amount oftime and effort to rebuild the livesof the tsunami’s victims.It is essential that as the mediafinds its next big story, we don’tforget that there are those still inneed. If you can’t find the moneynow, try to budget it in February.The point is simply to find themoney, and make sure it gets tothose in need.