Americans Giving Big to Haiti Relief Effort

More money has already been given than in the same period after Katrina.

ByABC News
January 17, 2010, 5:37 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2010— -- The lines were long -- a crush of people -- all in front of the Haitian embassy today.

Cars were double parked, creating a traffic nightmare, but these people were hoping to ease the nightmare in Haiti after the devastating earthquake.

All of them were dropping off donations of water, diapers and food.

Americans have been giving at what could be a record pace. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, as of Saturday, $150 million has been donated by Americans.

That's more than the U.S. government has committed so far, and more than was raised in the same time period after Hurricane Katrina and after the tsunami in Asia. The American Red Cross has collected $12 million through cell phone texting already.

"That's what's so incredible about this. People are really motivated. They see those pictures of everyone suffering and they're giving as fast as they can," said Stacy Palmer, the editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

At American Red Cross headquarters here, its International Disaster Center was buzzing today. One worked held a phone to each ear trying to book a charter flight.

The group got its first supplies into Haiti on Saturday and the level of deliveries was growing quickly. Seven trucks were expected to arrive today in Port Au Prince.

But controversy already surrounds one small charity, Yele Haiti, which was founded by Haitian-American and Grammy Award winning singer Wyclef Jean.

After reports that Jean's business interests are intertwined with the charity, the singer took to YouTube to defend himself and his charity, calling the allegations "an attack on my integrity and my foundation."

The Associated Press and obtained Yele Haiti's tax returns, and the 2006 return shows some of Jean's businesses -- a studio and a production company -- were paid rent and fees by the charity.

"I never and would ever take money for my personal pocket when it comes to Yele," Jean said in the video statement, adding, "Not only do I denounce all that, I am disgusted by that."