San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Donations for Flood Victims Flow In, Tons of Supplies Given To Caribbean Residents

The Costa Rican Red Cross is measuringdonations of food and clothes in metric tons.Scout groups are measuring theirs by the truckload,and the tally on the official disaster-reliefbank account is whirring like a slot machine.The word solidaridad is on the lips of CostaRicans as they open their billfolds and thin outtheir closets and pantries to donate to the thousandsof flood victims in the Caribbean slope, andits equivalent in other languages has directed thousandsof dollars of international aid here, evenwhile the world is writing checks to help the victimsof last month’s tidal waves in Asia.A record-breaking rainfall engorged rivers andflooded towns throughout the eastern part of the countrylast week, forcing more than 8,500 people into temporaryshelters (TT, Jan. 14). More than 2,000 were stillwaiting out the rain in temporary shelters this week.THE rest of the country has reached out to help.“It has been monstrous, this reaction,” HerbertBarrot, director of Boy and Girl Scout operations, toldThe Tico Times this week. “People have a deep feelingof solidarity.”The Red Cross has collected more than 100-metrictons of food and an equal amount of clothing. It hasdelivered supplies to affected areas in 25 truckloads butits warehouse in San José is still full, representatives said Wednesday.Together with the National EmergencyCommission (CNE), relief workers attemptto distribute food and water rations daily tomore than 250 affected communities. Manyof the supplies are donated; others are fromthe government.“The media has helped a lot,” said LuisHuertas, vice-president of the Costa RicanRed Cross. “People are able to see firsthandimages of the destruction and they react tothem. I also believe the images of the tsunamiand the devastation in Asia have affectedpeople. Seeing the devastation in Costa Rica,they want to help even more.”COSTA Rican Boy and Girl Scoutgroups, collectively called “guías scout,”have worked since last week to collectmoney, food, clothing and other neededsupplies.Approximately 7,000 youth ages 7-21went door to door with 1,000 scout leadersin communities throughout the country.They joined forces with other collectionefforts and have helped load trucks withsupplies bound for the Caribbean.The scouts will continue collectingdonations “until the work is done,” Barrottold The Tico Times.TELEVISION’S Channel 7 opened abank account for donations to the NationalEmergency Commission called AyudaCaribe, and funds can be deposited in privateand state banks Banco Nacional,Banco Interfin, BAC San José and Banex.The TV station held a fundraisingmarathon Jan. 14 in which it raised ¢265million ($577,000). The total amount collectedin the account will be delivered tothe emergency commission Monday.The Corporación de SupermercadosUnidos, a union of 126 Palí, Más x Menos,Hipermás and Maxibodega stores throughoutthe country, held a three-day collectioncampaign last weekend that delivered ¢8million ($17,400) in food and ¢3.5 million($7,625) in cash to the CNE. Together withTV Channel 6 and a donation-matchingoffer from Banco de Costa Rica, thosegroups raised ¢489 million ($1.1 million) inone weekend, the daily La Nación reported.AutoMercado grocery stores announcedthey are collecting donations at theircash registers, and have gathered ¢13 million($28,300) in the first four days of theprogram, which began Jan. 14 and willcontinue until the end of the month.Businesses around the country, includingThe Tico Times, collected donationsfrom their employees to hand over to theRed Cross or the CNE.THE United States government donated$50,000 Tuesday through a disaster-relief-fund for Latin America, money theU.S. Embassy here said will defray costs ofair support, bottled water, food and otherassistance the flood victims may need.The Corporación Andina de Fomento, aLatin American finance institution of whichCosta Rica is a member, donated $25,000yesterday to help fund emergency services.The award-winning director of CostaRica’s most-often praised film production,“Caribe,” Esteban Ramírez, in an agreementwith three theaters in the CentralValley, donated every colón collected frommovie-goers who saw the film Tuesdayevening to help people from the southernCaribbean region where his film was set.Emergency commission representativeRebeca Madrigal told The Tico Times thecommunity response this past week hasbeen paralleled only by the donationsgiven to victims of Central America’s mostdevastating disaster in recent history,Hurricane Mitch in 1998.SEEMINGLY countless groups of volunteershave collected and delivered supplies,and many continue seeking support.The Talamanca Association of Ecotourismand Conservation (ATEC), inPuerto Viejo de Talamanca, on the southernCaribbean coast, is working withTalamanca’s recycling association to gatherfood and clothing for those who havelost their belongings and crops.“Many people lost everything,” saidarea hotel owner and Tico Times CommunityConnection contributor WendyStrebe. Those interested can call ATEC at750-0191 or e-mail atecmail@racsa. for the Hungry Costa Rica, aregional branch of the internationalChristian relief organization, has distributed$1,500 in supplies from the organization’srapid relief fund, and supplies ofequal value donated by Costa Ricans.“The people of Costa Rica were extremelygenerous in giving to the people affectedby the floods,” said Rebecca Copley, theorganization’s director of communications.Many of the flood victims need mattresses,she said. To contribute, call 250-3164, or visit the Web site,or e-mail Costa Rican HumanitarianFoundation delivered donated goods to acommunity of indigenous Cabecar peoplewho live near the Chirripó River, on theCaribbean slope east of San José, which was still engorged when foundation director GailNystrom arrived Saturday. Nystrom delivereddonated food for 30 families – grainsand a chicken to every family, she said – aswell as medical supplies.Cleaning supplies are greatly needed,she said. To contact the foundation, callNystrom at 390-4192, or e-mail in the flood zones havenot been overlooked.“The main program we are focusing onis one to help the children,” said Huertas, ofthe Red Cross. “We aren’t worrying ourselvesabout houses because the governmentis responsible for re-building those, but wewant children to be able to go back to schooland achieve some level of normality.”The Child Welfare Office (PANI) andthe U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), withother children’s rights organizations, arecollecting school supplies, clothes, shoes,toys, diapers and non-perishable foods.Donations can be dropped off at any of the29-PANI offices around the country.FOR those interested in helping, suggestionsfor supplies that would be usefulto those in need include personal hygieneproducts, canned foods and dry goods, bottledwater, clothes, rubber boots, blankets,cleaning and kitchen supplies.Donations can be delivered to RedCross chapters throughout the country orthe groups mentioned. For information,call the Red Cross in San José at 233-7033.Monetary donations to the Red Crosscan be made at Banco Nacional into account100-100-7, Banco Popular 5000-8, Banco deCosta Rica 176-00303 (in colones) and 204-6 (in dollars).

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