It was a sad end to 2004, but a great response in 2005, says business and marketing director for the Northern BC and Yukon Region of the Canadian Red Cross Kyle Aben.
After the December 26, 2004 tsunami catastrophe in southeast Asia, one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded, the Prince George Red Cross has seen an unprecedented amount of support and generosity from local citizens.
“All we’ve been doing since the disaster is managed generosity,” said Aben. “The support we’ve been receiving has been amazing.”
In response to the amount of monetary donations and inquiries the Red Cross opened its doors throughout the weekend and New Years day. “It didn’t bother any of us to have to come in during the holidays,” said Aben. “It’s what we do and we’re happy to do it.”
And while the devastation of the tsunami grows and the death toll mounts, Aben says the very fundamentals of survival are foremost. “Right now we are concentrating on the basics – delivering clean water and food.”
And the delivery of water and food items has been made possible by the generosity of a worldwide campaign. “Prince George has been phenomenal,” said Aben. “On Monday we were given a check for $10,000 from the Sikh community, Tuesday morning we were handed a cheque for $15,000. Groups all over the community are coming together.” As of press time, the Red Cross had collected $121,478.
Internationally the Red Cross was aiming at raising $75 million for the relief fund, that figure, said Aben, has almost been raised by the Canadian Red Cross alone.
“It’s definitely one of the largest campaigns – monetarily speaking,” he said. “Our figures continue to climb and we believe it’s due to a number of factors.”
The Red Cross is a leader in the percentage market, proudly stating that for every dollar donated .90 makes it’s way to the cause. “But our main vantage point is our reputation and our mobilization,” said Aben. “We are the premiere humanitarian organization – something happens and bang, bang, bang – we’re there with specific procedures in place.”
Aben also attributes the amount of support from Prince George citizens to the gravity of the situation. “People are seeing this devastation and are identifying with it, we’re not seeing the usual detachment that sometimes comes with disasters so far away.”
Donations to the Red Cross can be made online at www.redcross.ca, the toll-free number 1-800-418-1111, or mail or drop by the office at 1399 Sixth Avenue, Prince George, V2N 5L6.