Long Islanders have been gathering donations to send to the Philippines to assist in the devastating aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan—despite the fact that parts of LI are still recovering from Sandy.
Local residents are gathering food, clothing, funds and other supplies to send to the Southeast Asian island nation both independently and through entities ranging from the local schools to the Holbrook-based Filipino-American Society of Long Island.
“This typhoon was the worst in terms of landfall,” said Robert Zarate, president of the group, which planned relief efforts in advance—adding that tropical cyclones are “not anything new to us on the island.”
Nonprofits such as the Red Cross and UNICEF have been leading national fundraising efforts for victims of the typhoon also known as Yolanda, one of the strongest storms in recorded history that has claimed nearly 4,000 lives and left more than 1 million homeless.
While some local donors donate through these agencies, Zarate’s group is sending their aide directly to the Philippines. Operation Tanglaw, as the effort has been dubbed, is gathering nonperishable donations including canned goods, baby supplies and money to help fund shipping. The organization has donation drop-off locations in Nassau and Suffolk counties and is hosting a benefit Saturday at Villa Lombardi in Holbrook.
The Mahanaim School in Huntington raised more than $2,000 from about 400 people who attended their winter concert Sunday for UNICEF’s disaster relief efforts. Several musical selections of the evening were dedicated to the “undying spirit of the people of the Philippines.”
“People of Nassau and Suffolk are very supportive of good causes,” said Glen Heil, spokesman for the International Youth Fellowship is involved in the school’s efforts. “Since we have a very generous and supportive town, why not make this concert about more than our school?”
News of the event had been spread at the last minute, primarily by word of mouth. Beyond Huntington, the Filipino community, which is estimated at more than 10,000 on LI, remains united through the struggle.
Kristen Alberca, a 22-year-old Filipino-American from Valley Stream, fears for her family back home and feels helpless because she has not been able to get in contact with her relatives there yet.
“Typhoon Haiyan really did most of its damage to Tacloban where my aunt, cousin and her one month old child resides,” she said.
Audrey Amistad, a 21-year-old Filipino-American that has lived in New York all of her life, is trying to stay positive.
“It is going to take a while being that it is a third world country, but the strength and drive of our culture could get us through it,” she said.
Philippines native Ashley Leon, also 22, who has lived on LI for two years, is eager to help.
“My friend and I are currently waiting for a letter from the Philippine Red Cross to see what we can do and how to go about sending clothes and food over there,” said Leon. “We are collecting clothes, toiletries, to send over.”
Amid the difficulty in getting news from family abroad, Alberca is takes solace in seeing the community coming together.
“In Long Island alone there is a pretty solid Filipino community,” she said. “It’s so nice to hear of friends, students, community members starting funds and just those sending food, clothing and doing all that they can.”
The New York Attorney General’s office issued tips on checking the validity of charities here.