Red Cross says 1.3 million in Haiti settlements need assistance.
TROY — The largest single-country relief operation in the history of the American Red Cross started after a 35-second earthquake leveled a part of Haiti on Jan. 12, destroying buildings and lives that will take years to rebuild.
Relief efforts continue and a benefit called Dancing with our Local Stars planned for Saturday will help the agency take more steps to assist 1.3 million victims displaced by the 7.3-magnitude earthquake.
"We're still focusing on core needs, things like tarps and ropes for temporary housing, pots and pans for cooking, water and sanitation," said Andrea Tomaszewski, spokesperson for the Southeastern Michigan chapter of the American Red Cross.
The agency also is collecting money to build latrines in settlements and immunize inhabitants against malaria.
"Too many people still live under blankets and strings," Tomaszewski said. "Conditions remain really inadequate. We're setting up health care facilities and vaccination campaigns to prevent secondary problems."
Janet Blair, president of Successfully Single, Inc., said she wanted to support the cause by organizing a memorable evening for area singles and couples.
"We've had a wonderful response so far," said Blair, adding that almost 500 of the 750 tickets for the fundraiser have been sold.
The 7 p.m. event at the San Marino Club, 1685 E. Big Beaver Road, Troy, features performances by professional dancers, including Miss Michigan Nicole Blaszczyk doing the routine that won her the talent competition at Miss America, a dance competition with television news and radio reporters, and dancing for attendees to music by Steve King & The Dittilies.
"I hadn't seen any kind of fundraiser like this in the Detroit area," Blair said. "People can have a memorable evening and help a worthy cause. It's really important for people to remember that rebuilding a country is a monumental task. The job is far from complete."
The quake left the capital of Port-au-Prince and neighboring towns along the western coast in ruins. At least 200,000 people died and 300,000 were injured. The United Nations estimates that 285,000 houses collapsed, leaving 1.3 million people living in makeshift tent settlements.
Dancing with our Local Stars will raise money for the American Red Cross's International Disaster Relief Fund. All proceeds from a drawing for a week-long stay at a luxury condo in Florida, and a 100-item silent auction with gift baskets and gift certificates donated by restaurants, salons and other businesses will go to the fund.
Tickets cost $25 and include an hors d'oeuvres buffet, door prizes and a cash bar. Advance registration is required by calling (248) 289-6406 or going to www.successfullysingle.org.