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Esmark continues relief efforts as third anniversary of Haiti earthquake nears

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For information on how to support the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation's Haiti project, visit www.pittsburghkidsfoundation.org

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Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 11:18 a.m.
 

Saturday will mark the third anniversary for an earthquake that caused major damage in and around Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Pittsburgh and Sewickley quickly became the epicenter of relief efforts due, in part, to Esmark Inc. CEO Jim Bouchard.

The Sewickley resident recalls being on a treadmill watching television coverage of the disaster.

“I saw all of the destruction and I knew we had to do something for them,” Bouchard said. “They needed help faster than anybody could offer.”

Bouchard helped to organize an 80-member team of doctors and volunteers to help in relief efforts, which included more than $15 million in supplies. On a return trip to Pittsburgh, Bouchard helped to bring home 100 orphaned children that were set to be united with their United States parents.

“Seeing the devastation and destruction, that sticks with you,” Bouchard said. “And when you think of the lives lost and lives affected, it really makes you want to do whatever you can to help.”

Relief efforts and funding from Pittsburgh still continue to benefit Haiti.

Bouchard and Esmark have worked with the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation Haiti project, where volunteers and workers are building an orphanage, he said.

A Charity Classic event with Bouchard's Johnstown Tomahawks planned for Wednesday where about $100,000 would have benefitted the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation project was canceled due to the NHL's labor contract resolution, the junior hockey league team General Manager Rick Boyd said.

“The cancellation of this event is very unfortunate, and our entire hockey family is disappointed that as a community we are not able to proceed with the game, which would ultimately help benefit two wonderful non-profit organizations,” Boyd said in a post to the team's Facebook page. “While the NHL players return to work, we look forward to working with them in the future to create opportunities to raise awareness and funds for such worthy causes. We would like to acknowledge and give sincere gratitude to our fans and the community for the overwhelming support they have shown for this event.”

Bouchard said his work in Haiti will continue.

“We've pledged to continue supporting kids in Haiti,” Bouchard said. “We know there's still so much devastation there, and we'll continue to do what we can to help.”

Bouchard said he and his wife Carolyn recently flipped through photos from the earthquake.

“It was one of those life-changing experiences,” he said. “It's something you never will forget.”

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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