Local News

Highlands County residents help victims of typhoon

SEBRING - Coverage of the thousands of victims of Typhoon Haiyan may have faded from television news and the front pages of newspapers, but Highlands County residents haven't forgotten them.

At the end of this month, about 120 boxes of clothes, household items, canned food and other items will be shipped from Highlands County to help victims of the typhoon.

Last weekend, people gathered at St. Catherine's Catholic Church's parish hall to donate the items, buy Filipean meals and raise nearly $5,500 to the cause of helping people in the Philippines.

Many of those involved in the event were Filipinos living in Highlands County.

Rissa Domisiw, one of the organizers, said she was pleased with the response.

Although the event was held at St. Catherine Catholic Church, she said, "We had a very good response from people of all religions. It's more than we expected."

She said a shipping company has agreed to ship the donations at no cost. Monetary donations will go to the Red Cross in the Philippines, she said.

Many of the Filipinos participating in the event, while not having immediate family in the area hit by the storm, have friends or distant relatives in that area.

Ira Arnan, who helped cook food, recalled the tragic story of two sisters, who are distant relatives of his family. One of the sisters after living in New York for many years, retired and returned to the Philippines. Years later, he said, her sister went to visit her. Both ended up drowning, he said.

Family members, while sad over the loss, were relieved that the bodies of both sisters were located, he said.

Clarisse Tuazon, another volunteer, said she has a friend whose family lost half of their house. Now seven families are living in the remaining half, she said.

They didn't get any food or water supplies until four or five days after the storm, she said. Even then, she said, it wasn't enough for all the families.

Cecil Lim, an organizer, said she doesn't have family directly affected by the storm, but wanted to help.

"You feel really bad," she said. "They have lost everything."

Lim helped organize the cooking of Filipino foods that included, a rice dish, chicken adobo and egg rolls.

Although the event was only held for one day, she said, people continued to donate money this week following it, Lim said.


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