Volunteers were in tears when they kicked-off the fundraising drive for the Philippines.
The tears were not only for the victims of typhoon Haiyan that recently devastated the country, but also for the generous outpouring of support from the Vernon community.
“I am overwhelmed by the kindness of Canadians,” said Angie Miranda, president of Club Filipino of Okanagan-Shuswap (CFOS). “We were hoping to raise $5,000 during our bake sale on November 16 and we passed that goal before noon that day with still lots of baked goods to sell.”
Aurora Munro, president of the North Okanagan Filipino-Canadian Association (NOFCA), said the club did not have to spend a dime to host the bake sale.
“Village Green Centre provided the venue; Sweet Caroline’s, Superstore, and Tim Hortons provided the baked goods. The response was simply amazing,” she said.
At the end of the bake sale, the Filipino-Canadian community raised $13,000.
But the appeal for support did not end there. On Nov. 21, the community organized a non-denominational prayer rally at St. James Catholic Church, with around 50 people in attendance.
“On top of raising funds, we recognize the need for raising our hands in prayer,” said Maylene Ramis, who helped organize the service. “The Filipino people need our prayers; the Philippines as a nation needs healing.”
Nenette Sharma said holding prayer rallies for the people of the Philippines helps to bridge the physical distance between the two countries.
“They are assured we are in solidarity with them,” she said. “Prayer feeds the soul as funds feed the body. Prayers give us the eyes of faith to see the glimmer of hope in between undesirable circumstances. Prayer is the surest way to live one day at a time.”
The community then held a potluck fundraiser at Seaton school and pancake breakfast at Rosalinda’s Filipino Kitchen Nov. 23 and 24, respectively. The events raised a combined total of $2,500, and contributions have been coming in almost daily, with donations from individuals and businesses bringing the total amount raisd to $26,000.
Super typhoon Haiyan (also called Yolanda in the Philippines) slammed across central Philippines Nov. 8. It has since claimed 5,300 lives, affected an estimated 10 million people, and damaged or destroyed about 23,000 houses, as well as public infrastructure and agricultural land.
“The sheer scale of the devastation has moved us and rallied us together to send help to the Philippines,” said Bernie Ramis, former president of CFOS and one of the organizers of the events. “Filipino-Canadians from six to 60 years old came out to help and participate in the events.
“Everyone was just so touched to witness the outpouring of support and we continue to be humbled by the remarkable response this community has provided. The whole of Canada has given so generously and we are extremely grateful.”
The funds raised will be sent to the Philippines through the registered Canadian charity Development and Peace. The Canadian federal government will set aside one dollar for the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund for every dollar donated by Canadians between Nov. 9 and Dec. 8. The matching fund is in addition to the up to $5-million in disaster relief the government has already provided.
“The Filipino-Canadians of Vernon would like the community to know that they are extremely grateful,” said Bernie Ramis. “On behalf of the Filipino people, Salamat (thank you)!”