In a dimly lit sanctuary overlooked by a large wooden cross, mourners rose one by one in the pews and called out names of families who are coping with the unspeakable tragedy in Haiti.

So many of those gathered in mourning Saturday night in the main sanctuary of Greenlawn's First Presbyterian Church had lost loved ones - or knew people who have - that the recitation lasted an agonizingly long time.

Their voices cracked with emotion as disconsolate onlookers held their heads in their hands and wept.

Organizers of the vigil, which attracted nearly 250 people from across Long Island, said they meant the gathering to be as much a time of mourning as one for committing to help rebuild the devastated nation.

Marie Saint Cyr fought back tears as she began a prayer for the ravaged country.

"Tonight is a special night," she said in a low, muffled voice. "We know many of you have lost people and others are still waiting to hear back. I tell you: Have courage."

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Saint Cyr, who said relatives had died in the earthquake, asked those at the church to begin thinking about how they can help rebuilding efforts.

"I know you may be taking care of family in Haiti," she said. "Now, we are asking that you take care of a nation."

Katiana Anglade, a Haitian-born clerk who now works for a Melville law firm, said before the prayer vigil that people need to consider what will happen in Haiti after emergency and rescue workers leave.

"When they are done finding people in the rubble, the people are still going to need help," Anglade said.

She added: "We are praying for God to open up the communication lines, for the safe return of rescue workers, and for the peace to be maintained."

 

Major earthquake hits Haiti

Norna Jean, 57, a nursing assistant from Huntington, came to the vigil with her son Kenny, 15.

Jean said she wanted to share the experience with fellow Haitians.

"I wanted to be here and I want to be active in the rebuilding," she said.

>>PHOTOS: Frantic rescue effort in Haiti | Deadliest recent earthquakes

>> LIVE: Twitter coverage of the scene in Haiti, from aid agencies, and reaction worldwide

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>> VIDEOS: Latest videos from Haiti and on LI

>> MORE: Read more about LIers grieving and LI's efforts to help | Latest news from Haiti | Haiti's road to chaos: 2006 Newsday series

 


HOW TO HELP

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* You can help immediately by texting "HAITI" to "90999" and a donation of $10 will be charged to your cell phone bill and given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts.

* Wyclef Jean, a rapper and hip-hop artist from Haiti, urged people to text "Yele" to 501501 to donate $5 toward earthquake relief. Yéle Haiti is a grassroots movement inspiring change in Haiti through programs in education, sports, the arts and environment, according to its Web site.

* The State Department Operations Center has set up the following number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747. The Red Cross has also set up a Web site to help family members find and contact relatives.

* You can also go online to organizations such as the Red Cross and MercyCorps to make a contribution to the disaster relief efforts.

The FBI warned Internet users to be wary of e-mail messages seeking donations in the aftermath of the quake. People who want to send money or assistance should contribute to known organizations and should be careful not to respond to unsolicited e-mails, officials said.

 

Other Web sites accepting donations include:

-Haitian Health Foundation
-Hope for Haiti
-UNICEF
-International Medical Corps
-Beyond Borders
-AmeriCares