Members of New Jersey's Filipino community are mobilizing to raise money and help send aid to their homeland after it was hit last week by a typhoon.
Donation boxes had cropped up by Monday on counters at Filipino businesses throughout Jersey City's Little Manila neighborhood, home to about 16,000 of New Jersey's estimated 100,000 Filipinos.
Bea Sabino, a Filipina community organizer, said the biggest need is money because it's too difficult to get goods to the Philippines quickly.
Although people have been dropping off food, clothing and other supplies at various locations, organizers say past experience has shown a lack of good infrastructure in the Philippines makes sending goods there quickly very difficult.
Felix Sagun, a Bayonne resident who is from Laguna in the Philippines, said the moment he heard news of the storm's devastation, he instructed his children to collect any of their clothing and shoes they were no longer wearing in order to ship it to the Philippines. He bundled clothing, some canned goods, blankets and instant noodles into several large boxes and dropped them off at a Jersey City business that ships direct to the Philippines.
Many Filipino residents in New Jersey were glued to satellite news reports from their homeland Monday, and some said they had spent an agonizing few days trying to reach loved ones.
Adelia Ramos, a Jersey City resident who is a native of Calbiga, Samar in the Philippines, said she spent several days trying to reach family in the affected area. She teared up when describing the moment she finally got through to them on Sunday night.
"They are now safe, they are back in our province," she said, breathing in sharply and waving away tears. "But, the worries that they had, they couldn't get to our town, they had to walk for seven hours, and sometimes over dead bodies."