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Wireless carriers announce mobile giving efforts following Chile quake

Two of Mississippi’s major cellular carriers are responding to relief efforts in Chile after an 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck the South American country on Friday, killing more than 700. President Michelle Bachelet called the disaster “an emergency without parallel in Chile’s history.”

Verizon Wireless announced Monday that the carrier has waived all calling fees for its customers trying reach friends and family in Chile. In a release, the company said that customers with regular monthly bills can make calls at no cost and that calls could be received at no charge.

“At times of crisis, we spring into action,” said Dan Mead, chief operating officer for Verizon Wireless. “By acting urgently, we are helping families connect without worrying about cost.”

AT&T and Verizon customers in Mississippi can text the keyword “CHILE” to any of the following charity numbers to make a donation.

  • 25383 to donate $10 on behalf of the Habitat for Humanity
  • 20222 to donate $10 on behalf of World Vision
  • 52000 to donate $10 on behalf of the Salvation Army

After sending the text, customers will receive a confirmation message and should reply “yes” to finalize the donation. AT&T and Verizon customers will not be charged for the texts and 100 percent of all money donated will be passed on to the organization the customer selected. Donations will appear as a line-item on customers’ bills or be debited from prepaid accounts.

While additional “mobile giving” numbers are expected by other international relief organizations, Mississippians wanting to donate by cell phone to the American Red Cross will have to wait. A special text number was set up by the organization following the January 12 earthquake in Haiti and $32 million in donations was reportedly raised.

Red Cross spokesman Eric Porterfield said that there were no immediate plans to set up a similar mobile giving number and that the organization was still waiting for more updates from their Chilean office. Red Cross donations can be made online to the International Response Fund by visiting www.redcross.org.

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