Dinner Raises $20,000 For Typhoon Relief

Residents braved chilly weather on Saturday for a home-cooked Filipino dinner — and a chance to support the local Fil-Am Association’s typhoon relief efforts.

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The line spilled out the door at the Burma Road Chapel. While it was cold and drizzly outside, there were piles of hot adobo, rice and egg rolls to be had inside, all prepared and served by members of the Fil-Am Association.

Kathy Leu sat at a table in the chapel with a friend, eating pancit, a traditional noodle dish. She said they came hungry and were happy to donate.

“The Filipino food is always so good, but [we] definitely wanna support the cause,” Leu said.

The buffet line packed the chapel’s small space. Most people didn’t stick around to eat, and walked away with stacks of to-go boxes for their families at home.

But that was just fine with Fil-Am members helping out at the dinner, like Roel Villamor.

“It’s a small community, but it’s such a big heart. Everybody’s here,” Villamor said. “It’s amazing.”

Fil-Am charged $12 a plate, but many people chose to give more. The group raised more than $20,000 at the event alone.

That’s not counting their other fundraising efforts. They’ve placed donation boxes around at grocery stores around town. And Fil-Am has formally asked Unalaska’s city council to consider making a contribution from their discretionary budget.

Former mayor and city council member Frank Kelty advocated for that donation at a city council meeting this month. He says Unalaska has a history of lending a hand after disasters, like September 11th. He says the typhoon hits close to home for Alaskans.

“Unalaska’s one of the largest Filipino communities in the state, and if they [the city council] so choose to assist, I think it’s a great thing to do, especially with the devastation we’ve seen in the central part of the Philippines,” Kelty said.

City council is expected to vote on a making a donation at their meeting next week.

Meanwhile, Fil-Am members will get together this week to talk about holding more fundraisers — and to decide what to do with the money they’ve raised so far. At meetings before the dinner, they said they wanted to find a relief organization that would reach typhoon victims as quickly as possible. Some members of Unalaska’s Filipino community still haven’t gotten in touch with family in the hardest-hit areas of the country.

Annie Ropeik is a reporter for KUCB in Unalaska.

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