SPRING HILL — When a devastating typhoon ripped through the Philippines on Sept. 26, fears about the loss of life reached across the globe to Hernando County.
Members of the Hernando County Philippine-American Association and the tri-county Filipino American Social Club worried about the fate of loved ones as the island nation was wracked by winds of up to 130 mph, and then hit by a second typhoon, leaving more than 300 people dead and hundreds of thousands of people without shelter.
So far, the reports from the organizations' members have not included family losses. "No one has come forward to say they've lost anyone," said Aurora Rice, of the Hernando County Philippine-American Association. "No news is good news," she added.
"We have families and friends in Manila, but they live on higher ground,'' said Gigi Smith, association president. "Some of our members have families there but they have not been able to make contact."
The groups are working to provide aid to their homeland, but it's a daunting task from a half-world away, the leaders said this week.
"It's difficult to send items," said Smith. "Children need medicines, toiletries, anything they need in their everyday lives."
Smith said the group is targeting pure water and rice to send, and will decide at a meeting this Sunday what sort of financial donation to send.
"We might as well send money rather than pay shipping costs. We'll send whatever we can send," Smith said.
The group has donated $500 from its general fund through a foundation in Cedarwood, Calif., that is coordinating relief efforts in the United States.
Both local organizations are planning fundraisers, such as yard sales and bake sales, to raise money for the storm victims. To participate or donate call Smith at (352)650-0747 or Rice at (352) 848-1031.
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.