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Local groups rally to help those affected by typhoon in Philippines

Local charities and faith-based organizations are rallying efforts to help the victims of the super typhoon that may have killed an estimated 10,000 people in the central Philippines and that left many others missing or in need.
Typhoon Haiyan hit the country Friday, leaving a large amount of destruction and confusion in its wake. The typhoon is one of the largest ever recorded, according to disaster relief organizations.
In response, local groups in Carroll and the surrounding area are starting efforts to help those affected.
Roy Winter, associate executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, said the group will send $35,000 to the Church World Service, which provides disaster relief around the world through faith-based partner organizations. Brethren Disaster Ministries is part of the Brethren Service Center, which is based in New Windsor.
He said the group will likely focus on monetary donations to the Church World Service and other partner groups. The group may also send material donations after it determines how it can best send relief in that manner. He said the group is collecting donations online, and residents can also send checks earmarked for the disaster effort.
Winter said he expects the group will eventually send hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to partner groups, depending on how well donation efforts go. The goal is to raise $500,000.
Winter said residents should check with their local churches to see if they are doing any collection efforts for victims as well. He noted a lot of charities that are not faith-based are also collecting donations for relief efforts, such as the Philippine Red Cross and the American Red Cross.
Erlinda West, president of the nonprofit Filipino Americans of Carroll County, said she is hoping to collect donations that will go directly to group members' families that have been affected by the typhoon.
West said so far three people have contacted her saying they have family members that live in the area affected by the disaster. She said she expects there will be more families that will come forward.
"It's just hard for some of us who have not experienced or seen places like these to comprehend," West said. "It's really devastating ... I go back every so often and it's just hard for me to imagine the devastation ... and horrifying experience they must have had."
West said the nonprofit is accepting donations currently. She said her idea is to establish contacts in the country that will direct the aid to family members.
West said the group will likely disperse funds equally among those in need. Those who wish to donate can call her directly at 443-929-6756.
"Whatever help we can get at this point, it would be much appreciated," she said.
Catholic Relief Services, based in Baltimore, is working with other relief organizations and the Philippine government inside the country. As part of its effort, CRS is distributing 18,000 temporary A-frame shelters and thousands of hygiene kits that include soap, towels, toothpaste and other items, according to an overview of the group's relief plans.
CRS will also send kits that include plastic basins, cooking pots, utensils and other items that may have been lost in the storm, according to the overview.
The overview notes that the destruction of infrastructure where the typhoon hit has made relief efforts a challenge. Many relief supplies in the country were already dedicated to those affected by a recent earthquake in the Bopal province, further complicating relief efforts.
"The needs are enormous for this emergency, and just in the short-term," said Liz O'Neill, communications officer for CRS for Europe, Middle East and Asia. "People in the Philippines will need help long after the story is off the front page."

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