Groups take on typhoon relief

Students are raising funds to help Filipino communities get back on their feet.

Hailey Colwell

After Typhoon Haiyan killed and displaced thousands when it struck the Philippines on Nov. 8, some student groups are jumping to help by raising money for relief.

The University of Minnesota’s Philippine Student Association is involved with a number of fundraisers to help alleviate typhoon victims, and the Vietnamese Student Association is also helping the relief effort by supporting PSA’s work and raising money at its own events.

The typhoon, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, killed more than 3,900 people and left nearly 1,600 missing as of Monday. It also displaced more than 4 million people.

To help, the PSA sold shirts displaying the group’s logo and will donate all proceeds to typhoon relief. The group will also host a benefit concert later this month, and it is partnering with restaurants around campus to donate a portion of their proceeds Thursday to relief efforts.

When group members heard how damaging the typhoon was, everyone was very supportive of one another, PSA Event Planning Coordinator Mitchell Will said.

“There was just a lot of compassion over here,” he said.

Some PSA members have families in the Philippines, Will said. But to group members’ knowledge, none were directly affected by the typhoon.

Foreign aid donations total more than $270 million, including $20 million from the United States.

PSA’s goal is to raise $2,000. It’s currently a little more than halfway there.

All funds PSA raises will go to Advancement for Rural Kids, an organization that works to alleviate hunger, help children attend school and improve the economies of remote communities in developing countries. Its work is currently focused on the Philippines.

While emergency aid is currently reaching the Philippines in the form of food and water supplies, PSA Public Relations Officer Noelle Trovela said the funds PSA raises will go to long-term relief like supplies to build houses in isolated communities and seeds to plant crops.

“Those are real people affected and real damage,” Will said.

A weakened Typhoon Haiyan hit Vietnam early Nov. 11, and authorities evacuated hundreds of thousands of people there. The country saw far fewer injuries and reports of damage than the Philippines, and the University’s Vietnamese Student Association also opted to raise funds for victims.

“Whether or not we’re closely connected or distantly connected, I think it’s just important to remember where we came from,” Vietnamese Student Association President Kimberly Tam said.

Trovela said other student groups have been very supportive of PSA’s fundraising efforts, helping the group find free space for its benefit concert and spreading the word on social media.

Students have been active in starting relief efforts at other colleges too, she said.

“How fast the effort spread through the community and colleges was unbelievable,” Trovela said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.