A Miami building material dealer has found a special way to contribute to the massive relief effort for Haiti's earthquake victims: It's providing pallets and shrink wrap, plus materials it normally stocks for hurricane preparedness, for the containers of goods that south Florida citizens are donating.

"The earthquake in Haiti and the tragic circumstances that have followed have caused a grass-roots relief effort in Miami unlike any I have seen since Hurricane Andrew," Shell Lumber president Andy Haase said in an e-mail to ProSales. After the earthquake struck, "We immediately started receiving calls asking for donations of any kind, mostly monetary at first," he said. "A couple of days passed and every group from the Rotary club to the University of Miami was organizing containers of supplies or volunteers to help.

"The City of Miami contacted us to help move donations from City Hall to a warehouse [where] they had to start consolidating [goods]," Haase continued. "People were apparently just driving up to City Hall and dropping off supplies: water, clothes, batteries, food, everything.

"We offered our trucks and gave numerous pallets of supplies as well, such as water, stoves, gas cans and water jugs, flashlights with batteries (essentially what we keep for Hurricane supplies). It wasn't until later in the day the City Commissioner called and asked for empty pallets, empty boxes and shrink wrap. I would imagine that is how lumber yard and hardware stores could help most. The volunteers needed materials to package all the donations coming from regular people. If it's one thing lumberyards have it's pallets and shrink wrap!"

The Miami Herald quoted Haiti's prime minister on Sunday as estimating that as many as 70,000 of his country's citizens have died as a result of the earthquake. Others put the death toll at 100,000. A massive global relief effort is under way.

The earthquake has special significant for Shell Lumber because Miami is home to one of the nation's largest Haitian communities.

Asked about how other building material dealers could assist, Haase recommended that people donate through reputable, known organizations. "My employees also asked if they could volunteer or give us money to help pay for some of the supplies," he said. "They were very proud of Shell Lumber being involved."