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Virgin Islanders Want to Help Victims of Tsunami

Jan. 3, 2004 – Organizations all over the world have been pouring in aid to countries devastated by a tsunami and earthquake on Boxing Day. Now, several local organizations are pitching in to help the victims of the natural disaster.
The media is reporting confirmed deaths of more than 140,000 men, women and children in the wake of the tsunami that hit 11 countries and hitting especially hard Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
The members of one local organization – The India Association of the Virgin Islands – has decided to show care and concern for their "brothers" across the sea by launching a $50,000 fund-raiser.
Pash Daswani, acting president of the association, said Monday the group launched the effort last Tuesday and is now making it public so other members of the community can have a chance to contribute.
"It's a big humanitarian cause," Daswani said. "We, being in the Virgin Islands, know what it's like to be hit by a natural disaster, so this is a way of reaching out to our brothers and showing we care, and we understand."
Daswani said because of member participation, they have had checks "pouring in" already and he expects to meet the goal or even surpass it.
The Lucky Jewelers owner said the group also plans to hold a fundraising dinner to help meet the goal.
Daswani said all funds would be "directed strictly" to the Tsunami relief efforts. Donations can be brought in to the Lucky Jewelers store on Main Street or at the Boolchand's store in Havensight Mall.
Donations can also be mailed to:
India Association of the Virgin Islands
P.O. Box 1267
St. Thomas, VI 00804-1267
Make checks payable to: India Association of the VI (Tsunami Fund).
Other organizations interested in relief efforts are the local chapter of the American Red Cross and the local chapter of the United Way.
"If anybody wants to give us funds to send on to United Way International, they can," Thyra Hammond, local United Way executive director said Monday.
Hammond said the local group was not planning on giving any specific donation or fund-raiser for the Asian countries because most of their disaster relief funds were used up in aiding the Caribbean countries ravaged by hurricanes in 2004.
However, United Way International, United Way America and United Way affiliates in South East Asia were working together to address the "long-term response and recovery needs" of the ravaged countries. (See "United Way Addresses Long-Term Needs in South Asia").
To give through the United Way, contact Hammond at 774-3185 or contribute through the United Way Web site at www.unitedway.org/tsunamiresponse).
To give through the American Red Cross, call 1-800-435-7669 or in Spanish, 1-800-257-7575.
But Virgin Islanders are going to give in a variety of ways. St. Croix Reform Church dedicated its Jazz Vespers services Sunday to the victims of the disaster. Rev. Rod Koopmans said a hundred percent of the collection would go to help people in the stricken countries.
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