Tsunami relief under way in valley | VailDaily.com

Tsunami relief under way in valley

Tamara Miller

VAIL – Sarah Akeroyd is thousands of miles from the Indian Ocean countries affected by last weekend’s tsunami, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t affected. “I have a sister who lies in Australia; she felt the quake,” Akeroyd said, referring to the magnitude-9 earthquake that caused the tsunami. “I have a friend who has been scuba diving for there for three months. We haven’t heard from him.” Like many Coloradoans, Akeroyd didn’t know what she could do to help.Statewide and locally, organizations and companies are trying to raise funds for the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the tsunami. The disaster has claimed at least 130,000 lives in 12 countries, but the death toll is expected to continue to rise. Akeroyd’s employer, the Vail Chamber and Business Association, has opened a bank account at Weststar Bank to pool funds to help tsunami victims. Anyone can send checks or deposit cash into the account. All of the money will be sent to the American Red Cross, one of the largest organizations coordinating relief efforts. “We’ve gotten a couple of calls from people wanting to know what they could do,” said Kaye Ferry, president of the Vail chamber.

Weststar Bank has agreed to waive any account fees and 100 percent of the money will be given to the Red Cross, Ferry said. The chamber also plans to request a donation from the town of Vail, Akeroyd said. Gypsum-based Colorado Mountain News Media, which owns the Vail Daily, will donate money it collects through its Swap for Charities classified section and donate that money to the Red Cross’ International Response Fund. The company also will collect donations. Coloradoans in other communities are doing their part as well. In Aspen, Sri Lankan native Preethi Burkholder and her husband Trent planned a presentation for Monday of photos from their numerous trips to her homeland. They were asking for donations of at least $15 for admission. All proceeds will go to the Asafo Global Medical Fund for medical supplies for Sri Lanka.”Time is of the essence,” Preethi Burkholder said. “Whole portions of the country have been washed out, including most of the hospitals along the eastern coast.” The Red Cross also accepts donations directly through its Grand Junction office.

That office has been very busy this week, said Jean Hermanson, executive director of The Western Colorado Chapter of the Red Cross. “It’s actually been quite an amazing day,” said Hermanson. On Wednesday night her office had collected $3,000 for tsunami relief. On Thursday alone the office collected nearly $20,000 to bring the total to over $22,000 If it were a domestic disaster time, blood would be needed, but for an international disaster money is the best way people can help, Hermanson said. ===================================================How to help tsunami victims: • You can donate funds to the American Red Cross via Weststar Bank. Call 476-4600 for nearest bank location.• You can donate funds to the Red Cross via Colorado Mountain News Media, either by having a portion of your payment from placing a Swap for Charities ad go toward the relief effort, or by sending a check to the company. The address is 2014 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs, CO 81601

• To donate directly to the Red Cross send a check to: 506 Gunnison Ave., Grand Junction, CO 81501. Be sure to note that you’d like the funds to go to tsunami relief.• The Mile High Chapter of the American Red Cross will take donations by phone today from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 1-800-435-7669. ===================================================The Glenwood Springs Post Independent and the Aspen Times contributed to this report.Vail, Colorado