Local groups offer assistance to tsunami victims

William Thompson

Americans are contributing in a big way to disaster relief in Asia in the wake of massive tsunamis. Tucumcari’s St. Anne’s Catholic Church collected more than $1500 in donations from churchgoers last weekend, and a group of youths in conjunction with Center Street United Methodist Church, have been assembling health and hygiene kits to send overseas.

The money St. Anne’s collected will be making its way to Asia via the Catholic Relief Service, the official international relief agency of the U.S. Catholic community.
Tony Salgado, director of finance for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, said donations are rolling in from Catholics all over New Mexico.

“Once we get a considerable amount we will send it to the Catholic Relief Service Tsunami Relief Fund in Washington, DC.”
Stephanie Harman, a member of Center Street United Methodist Church said more than 20 local youths have begun a campaign to gather basic hygiene items to send overseas.

“We have very specific guidelines on what kind of items can be sent,” said Harman. “We began Monday. We hope to get a shipment off right away. The kids took it upon themselves to do this. They prefer to send something physical rather than just money.”

The youths are following guidelines of the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Each kit will contain items like a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush in its original wrapper, a washcloth, band-aids and a bar of soap. Nikki Harman and Justin Benavidez, students at Tucumcari High School, are getting the word out to community members.
“Even before the tsunami, there were people suffering over there,” said Nikki Harman. “We have a lot of stuff here in America. We’re doing this so we can send those people a little bit of hope.”

Benavidez said he keeps up with the relief efforts via the Internet.
“A lot of people have lost their homes,” he said. “It’s hard seeing those people living on the streets.”
Stephanie Harman said the Methodist relief organization specializes in sending disaster victims exactly what they request. The hygiene items have been specifically requested.

The youths will be speaking to church groups and volunteering their time and effort to assemble the kits. Stephanie Harman said people may donate single items like a tube of toothpaste or a bar of soap. Guidelines for the donated items can be obtained by calling the Methodist church at 461-2661 or Stephanie Harman at 461-6448.
The Catholic Relief web site is www.catholicrelief.org