Unemployment is in the double digits. Profits are down or non-existent. Budgets are stretched thin. There are plenty of reasons to ignore the people of Haiti this time around. But there are also a few reasons to offer assistance.

One that comes to mind, as we watch the mind-numbing coverage of the earthquake’s aftermath, is the power of hard news to put your own life in perspective.

Mindful of all the challenges here in central New Jersey, we at U.S. 1 decided to make a very modest contribution of $500 to a Haiti-based organization, the Albert Schweitzer hospital in Deschappelles, about 70 miles north of Port-Au-Prince. While the hospital (www.hashaiti.org) escaped destruction from the earthquake, it is now deluged with patients. Our contribution is just a trickle but it might buy some medical supplies that could possibly save a life or two.

That prompted us to share the news in this space and encourage other U.S. 1-area companies to do the same. Then we did the arithmetic and realized how easily the trickle could become a flood. The $500 from U.S. 1 represents $50 on behalf of each fulltime employee at the company. What if every company in our readership area did the same? While not every company in our circulation area reports their staff counts to us, lots of them do. Our data base shows 203,000 employees, and that’s a conservative number. Multiply that by $50 and you have more than $10 million in relief. We’d call that a flood.

We at U.S. 1 would also like to be a cheerleader for what the rest of you do. If your company makes any kind of contribution, matches what employees do, or sends workers to Haiti to help, please let us know. We will post the contributions in future issues of the paper. Your efforts can encourage others to participate and also inform others as to worthy organizations capable of putting the aid to work.

Contributions can be financial or otherwise. Wakefern, the Elizabeth-based company that owns the ShopRite supermarkets and other stores around the east coast, has committed $250,000 to the American Red Cross — about $5 for each employee but still a hefty sum.

The website northjersey.com has reported on Joseph Taylor, president and CEO of Matrix Development Group, the real estate investment and development firm on Forsgate Drive, near Exit 8A. Taylor, according to the website, was active in Haiti long before the earthquake and is chairman of Hands Together, a non-profit Catholic relief organization that operates schools and anti-poverty programs. Taylor goes to Haiti several times a year to work with the program.

Last year the Jumping Brook Country Club in Neptune, owned by Matrix, hosted a golf tournament that raised $130,000 for Hands Together. “There’s been a terrific outpouring” since the earthquake, Taylor was quoted as saying. “I thought I had seen it all, but this is worse. It’s just heartbreaking what these people have to go through.”

Scott Morgan, U.S. 1’s Survival Guide editor, is assembling information on donations. Please send information about your company’s efforts to morgan@princetoninfo.com. With all the bad news in the air, we will welcome all the good news we can find and share it with you next week.

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