Tsunami benefits garner thousands in donations

Neil Munshi

University students joined the public last weekend to raise money for relief efforts in the aftermath of the devastating tsunamis in south Asia last month.

On Sunday, the Sri Lanka Relief Fund benefit in the Coffman Union Theater featured a DJ, a dance group, a spoken-word artist and a short theatrical performance.

Approximately 175 people attended the event that raised approximately $3,200 for three Sri Lankan relief efforts, said Pradeepa Jeeva, a co-director of the local arts nonprofit group Diaspora Flow, which sponsored the event.

She said the event ran smoothly but the winter temperatures might have kept some people from attending.

“Just the fact that it was a Sunday night and I think the weather was a little discouraging – but saying that, we had a good turnout, and it was a good audience,” Jeeva said. “They were very receptive and supportive and were excited about what we were doing.”

Jeeva, who is from Sri Lanka, said she contacted friends and family in the Asian country and across the United States to figure out how to help in the wake of the tsunami.

“It was pretty much our responsibility, not only because we are Sri Lankan, but because we are people and we care about what is going on and we wanted to help because people lost (so much),” she said.

University senior and Diaspora Flow board member Vinothini Ambrose said the nonprofit group plans on sponsoring more events in the coming months in New York, Los Angeles, Ohio and possibly Washington D.C.

On Friday, 800 people attended another fund-raiser, RELIEF: A Benefit for Tsunami Survivors, at the downtown Minneapolis restaurant Solera. Many attendees were University students or alumni, event spokeswoman Maja Zupan said.

Organizers have not yet figured out how much the event raised between admission, liquor sales, a raffle and vodka sales, but they might know as early as today, Zupan said.

Attendees were treated to three floors of live DJ sets from 25 top Twin Cities acts.

“It went extremely well,” Zupan said. “We were worried the snowstorm would affect attendance, but each of the rooms were full of people.”

As of Jan. 13, the American Red Cross reports it has received nearly $184 million for tsunami-relief efforts.