Toronto Tech Community Bands Together to Help Haiti
The numbers coming out of Haiti are shocking: roughly 200,000 dead, with 13 Canadians among them. 543 Canadians are still missing, while almost 1,500 evacuated.
If you're like me, you've been watching the news in horror the past week and wondering how you can help. Everyone from your neighbour to George Clooney is stepping up to donate to the relief effort - the Canadian public alone has raised $40 million, which will be matched by the government. One of the communities that has been the most vocal about the tragedy in Haiti is Toronto's vibrant tech community.
Within days of the earthquake events like Democamp, a monthly gathering for designers, developers and entrepreneurs to get together and demonstrate new projects, pledged to donate all of their donations and ticket sales to Doctors without Borders. The guest speaker at next Wednesday's event, entrepreneur Gurbaksh Chahal, has also committed to matching the donations. They have a blog post up with a link to donate in case you can't attend the actual event.
Two other big tech events are raising funds for Haiti - GenYTO, a monthly event which brings together innovative minds from the Toronto startup, tech and marketing community to network and raise money for charities. Organizer Dave Coleman quickly announced after the earthquake that February's event will be devoted to supporting Haiti disaster relief - proceeds will go to the Canadian Red Cross. Local techie Tim Yull is organizing a Twitter-organized event specifically to address the crisis in Haiti, called HaiHaiTO (in the spirit of successful event HoHoTO) - details to come.
Events aren't the only way the tech community is helping though. Local iPhone application development company Endloop participated yesterday in IndieRelief, a one-day software sale where over 50 Mac and iPhone developers donated their sales proceeds to Haiti relief charities. Co-founder Garry Seto said that as a startup their resources are limited, but this allowed them to contribute in some way to the disaster relief.
And sometimes the tech community is lending their voice or expertise to relief efforts - Toronto Girl Geek Dinner co-organizer Heather Leson is rounding up techies to participate in CrisisCamp, set up by CrisisCommons.org. Local social media gal Sophie Bitfield is donating her expertise to Toronto works for Haiti, a group of Torontonians who are exchanging their services for donations to relief charities.
The advantage the tech community has it that the people are passionate, willing to help, and willing to spread the word about relief efforts like wildfire. Democamp has already raised $2230, and there are already 50 attendees scheduled to attend the GenYTO event. So if you're a Toronto techie consider attending one of the above events, or helping out with one of the initiatives. Or, you can just contact the Red Cross on Twitter to see how you can help.
Photo: United Nations Development Programme on Flickr.
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