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Wave of help generated locally for tsunami victims.

Byline: Susan Palmer The Register-Guard

After the Christmas tsunami decimated Indonesia, Eugene went into fund-raising overdrive like much of the rest of the world.

Children, musicians, restaurant owners and artists arranged an array of benefits to raise money to send to communities wiped out after a record earthquake sent a wall of water that killed more than 265,000 people and left millions homeless in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Somalia, Thailand and India.

It's hard to know how much Oregon residents donated, but according to two local groups, a handful of Western Oregon counties alone raised close to $400,000.

The money has purchased everything from mosquito netting to cooking gear.

That's gratifying to hear, said David Quale, a Eugene social worker who helped organize a January dinner and concert at the WOW Hall.

That event, coupled with a fund-raiser by area massage therapists at the Hult Center, raised $9,300 that the groups directed to the Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team.

Known as AMURT, the India-based nonprofit agency has branches in 80 countries and Quale believed they'd be effective because they had teams in place in the region.

While the organization had sent individual thank you letters to donors, Quale was curious about how the money had been spent.

"That's the beauty of e-mail. We were able to connect to a team leader," he said.

He not only got back confirmation on how the money was used but also a picture with a "Thank you Eugene" banner.

"It is heartwarming to feel the support of strangers some 7,000 miles away!" wrote Mark Devine, AMURT coordinator in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.

Devine, who also forwarded a letter of thanks to Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, explained that the money purchased resettlement kits handed out to 1,700 tsunami survivors in a camp several miles east of the capital city of Aceh province.

The kits contained a kerosene stove, two large washing buckets, a wok, a cooking pot, a knife and cutting board, six spoons and plates, a large serving spoon, a towel, three sarongs and two pairs of sandals.

"You cannot imagine the joy on the faces of mothers, fathers and elder sisters upon receiving those kits," Devine wrote.

Quale said he and the group of volunteers who organized the WOW Hall event were astounded that despite their inexperience with such events, they were able to raise the money.

That's in addition to the $380,000 the Oregon Pacific Chapter of the American Red Cross collected from residents in Lane, Coos, Curry, Benton, Douglas, Lincoln and Linn counties, said chapter spokeswoman Jenny Carrick.

All told worldwide, the American Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have raised $428 million for tsunami relief.

Short-term efforts provided food, water, health care and mental health counseling for survivors, Carrick said. In the coming months, donations will be spent on disease prevention and community and infrastructure rebuilding, she said.

The American Red Cross is no longer soliciting for tsunami relief, but if people still want to donate, Carrick suggests earmarking the money for the International Response Fund, allowing the money to go to other worldwide disasters. For more information, check the Web site

The Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team is repairing 42 damaged cottage brick factories to aid in the rebuilding of homes. Donors can support that effort by contacting the agency online at


Here is a by-the-numbers look at what American Red Cross donations bought.

255,000 sleeping mats

120,000 bars of soap

75,000 hygiene kits that went to 425,000 people

60,000 mosquito nets

40,000 lanterns

23,520 tarps

5,576 large tents


Area residents who came to the aid of survivors of the Indonesian tsunami got a personal thanks in a picture sent to a benefit organizer that shows resettlement kits being distributed. City of Eugene
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Title Annotation:Disasters; Money raised has been used for everything from cooking gear to mosquito nets
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 5, 2005
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