Beaufort County residents, organizations rally to help Philippines

emoody@beaufortgazette.comNovember 15, 2013 

Filipino native Ellier Gervero anxiously watched the news Nov. 7 in Beaufort and waited for information from his family in Tapaz, Capiz, Philippines.

They were directly in the path of Typhoon Haiyan.

"Friday, we called, but never heard," he said. "Saturday, we called, but never heard."

Late Sunday, a sleep-deprived Gervero finally heard from a niece. The town and province suffered significant damage, but his family was OK.

"Tapaz isn't hit as bad (as Tacloban City), but they still have kids to feed, mouths to feed," he said.

The Filipino-American Association of Beaufort County, of which Gervero is past president, is collecting donations of money, clothing, and dried and canned goods to send to typhoon victims.

Members are working with friends, family and local organizations in the Philippines to identify individual needs. They intend to give donations to people who need to do repairs and document the work through photos and paperwork.

Donations can be dropped off or sent to FAABC at 826 Bakers Court, Bluffton, SC 29910. If anyone has family or friends who need assistance, or for more information, call Gervero at 843-597-4399; Dinio Castillo at 843-368-8465; or Naty Orr at 843-338-5228.

The FAABC is one of a number of local organizations mobilizing to help Typhoon Haiyan victims.

The Catholic Diocese of Charleston is encouraging parishes to hold a collection by Nov. 30.

Cera Products of Hilton Head Island donated more than $54,000 worth of one of its rehydration drinks and intends to donate another $25,000 in products, according to a news release.

The company is encouraging people to make tax-deductible donations to the Child Health Foundation and mark them for "Philippines Disaster Relief /CeraLyte ORS" to buy medical supplies. It will give matching donations of company products for each dollar given.

A Chef's Relief Pop Up fundraiser is planned for 6:15 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at The Lodge Craft Beer and Burger Bar in Reilley's Plaza on Hilton Head Island. Local chefs will prepare six-course meals, and all proceeds from the $65-per-person dinner will go to the Philippine Red Cross. For tickets, contact Grace Wang at 843-816-5839 or gracew@serggroup.com.

The American Red Cross is assisting with fundraising and helping people connect with loved ones in the Philippines.

"We're taking calls right now from people wanting to do canned-good drives and food drives and those are items that cannot be easily used and distributed in this type of disaster," said Jeanne Carmichael of the Bluffton Red Cross office. "... Monetary donations provide the quickest type of relief."

The Bluffton Red Cross office at 59 Sheridan Park Circle is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be reached at 843-757-7437.

The Red Cross also has a tracer service, and people can submit inquiries for non-American citizens. Volunteers in the Philippines are working to identify and locate survivors, and reporting findings as communications allow, said Eileen Hadbavny, volunteer caseworker with the agency's International Relief Services. People can call the Bluffton office of the Red Cross if they haven't been in contact with family members and need help finding them.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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