LAWRENCE — Johnny Elena asked friends for money to buy diapers, vegetable oil, rice, canned tuna, spaghetti, toothpaste and garbage bags.
The items were not for Elena's pantry, but for the victims of the earthquake that struck Haiti last week.
"We have to help the most needy, and the need right now is in Haiti where the news and images are heartbreaking," Elena said.
Elena and Deborah Rodriguez brought the supplies to the community center at the former General Donovan School where the Pro Haiti Relief Committee has been collecting bottled water, canned foods, medical supplies.
Among others bringing supplies there were Francis and Bienvenido Caraballo Lopez and their daughter, Yaritza.
Each brought a plastic bag full of rice, boxes of pasta, cans of beans and tomato sauce.
"It was very moving seeing the news on television," Bienvenido Caraballo Lopez said.
"The community's response has been overwhelming," said Isabel Melendez, who made a plea over her local Spanish language radio program for community organizations and churches to form the relief effort for Haiti.
Area residents have also been digging into their pockets for cash donations.
In two days last week, Central Catholic High School students raised $1,800 for Haiti. They will collect more money next week after students finish their midterm exams.
Students at Notre Dame High School in Lawrence are also taking exams this week and will take up a collection next week, school President Mary Murphy said.
At Presentation of Mary Academy in Methuen, the students at the all-girls schools will pay not to wear their uniforms next week, and the money will be donated to the archdiocese for Haiti relief.
Sister Susan Frederick, president at Presentation, said prayers are recited for Haiti every morning and the topic is discussed in theology class.
"This is one way to gain awareness about our worldwide family and to be united in one God," Frederick said.
"We need to be sensitive to the needs of others so we can bring compassion and kindness."
Donations from all Caritas Christi Health Care hospital staff and physicians, including from Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, are being collected. The health care group has already pledged $300,000 to the American Association of the Order of Malta, which operates the HÃ¥pital SacrÃ© Coeur in Haiti.
At Lawrence General Hospital, information on where to donate is posted in the cafeteria, bulletin board and hallways.
Lawrence General also sent $2,000 worth of equipment, including sterile dressings, IV units, and medical bags.
At Ballard Vale United Church in Andover, members raised $1,505, during a special collection last week.
"This is certainly the largest special offering in recent memory," said parishioner Marc deLemos.
Also in Andover, the South Church's Board of World Service is donating $1,000 to World Vision, an emergency relief agency presently working in Haiti.
Members of Groveland Congregational Church decided to take an ongoing collection for Haiti, which will be distributed by the Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ.