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Plans to send medical supplies, persuade residents to help

By Erin Thompson Guam HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 28, 2011) – In Guam, a local nonprofit is working to make sure medical supplies reach the Philippines and is asking residents to help make it happen.

The Ayuda Foundation hopes to raise US$20,000 to buy a container's worth of medical supplies for Maria Reyna Xavier University Hospital -- a 140-bed teaching hospital that serves the poor in Cagayan de Oro, Carlotta Leon Guerrero, executive director of the Ayuda Foundation, said.

Cagayan de Oro was one of the hardest hit cities, where flash floods from Typhoon Sendong, international name Washi, left 60,000 people homeless, wiped entire villages off the map, and caused refugees to cram into disaster shelters.

More rains prompted evacuations of nearly 2,000 people on the opposite side of Mindanao Island, where a child was reported missing in floods in Surigao city, the civil defense reported.

As of yesterday, the death toll from flash floods caused by the Dec. 16 disaster had reached nearly 1,500, of which most are unidentified, according to The Associated Press.

The United Nations launched an appeal last week for US$28 million to help the displaced -- more than half the population of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, which are in the southern Philippines' Mindanao region.

The Ayuda Foundation is working with MedShare International, a nonprofit that collects surplus items from hospitals, distributors and manufacturers, and redistributes them to qualified healthcare facilities in the developing world, according to the organization's website.

Ayuda has worked with MedShare for the last 11 years, Leon Guerrero said. Since its inception 17 years ago, the Ayuda Foundation has shipped 16 to 18 containers for emergency situations across Micronesia and the Asia-Pacific region.

Once Ayuda raises the US$20,000 needed to fill the 40-foot container, the hospital can go online to choose exactly what it needs, Leon Guerrero said.

Shipping the container will be provided free of charge by Hyundai Shipping, Leon Guerrero said.

Because Ayuda is sending local funds raised directly to a hospital in the affected area, residents can be sure their donations are being used as intended, Leon Guerrero said.

"Sometimes you don't know where that money is going to go, who that helps," Leon Guerrero said. "This way you can say you know where that money goes."

Other Guam nonprofits also are stepping up to help out with the disaster. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Guam raised US$15,240 from local businesses and individuals to support the relief, and will present a check today to the Filipino Community of Guam. During a fundraising drive on Monday, the Filipino Community of Guam raised US$3,956, and took in 20 truckloads of goods such as clothing, canned food, towels and bedding items.

Yesterday the Guam Chapter of the American Red Cross received US$10,000 from Faye and Peter Ada and their family to aid in the relief efforts.

For the many people who want to donate but aren't sure that their donations are reaching the intended purpose, they can check to see if the nonprofit is registered with the Department of Revenue and Taxation.

On Guam, local and national 501c3 nonprofits are required to register with Revenue and Taxation, said Director John Camacho.

He said nonprofits also must submit a financial statement annually, and publish it in local media.

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