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Over $1.9 million raised in tsunami relief collection

By Christine Tolfree
Posted: 3/4/2005

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BRIGHTON — The Archdiocese of Boston contributed almost two million dollars worth of aid through the tsunami relief collection, the second largest in the archdiocese’s history, said chancellor David Smith. Smith called the donation an “extraordinary reaction” and said Boston Catholics only surpassed themselves in generosity on one other occasion: in 1999, after Hurricane Mitch hit Florida.

Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley called for the collection after rolling waves devastated coastal areas in 12 Asian and African countries. According to the Associated Press, the official death toll ranges from 172,301 to 182,334 with more than 125,000 missing and most of those presumed dead. Survivors face the difficult task of rebuilding their homes and getting their lives back together after the horrific disaster.

Most of Boston’s collection, over $1.9 million, was raised in January and sent to Catholic Relief Services by Feb. 25, adding to the tens of millions of dollars collected nationwide, said Smith.

Catholics from the archdiocese contributed an additional $1.7 million in direct contributions through the CRS Web site and fundraisers, making the total amount from Boston over $3 million, said Jeffrey Griffith, a representative for the agency.

CRS has collected more than $91 million for flood victims with money still coming in from some dioceses. The amount is “unprecedented” and by far the most money CRS has raised for an international relief effort, said Griffith.

Griffith praised all of those who have made charitable donations to CRS for tsunami relief. Donations in other areas have also been coming in steadily, he added.

"People are very generous," he said.

The money has allowed CRS to provide food, medicine, medical systems, water and sanitation to victims of the tsunami, Griffith said. CRS also has handed out family survival kits that include soap, cooking utensils, mats and shelter materials.

CRS is concentrating its efforts on helping those affected in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand and aiding them in regaining their livelihoods. CRS is helping fisherman rebuild their boats and providing them with the materials they need to begin working again, he said.

"We're moving away from emergency, immediate disaster relief into long-term development and rebuilding," Griffith said.

CRS, the U.S. bishops’ overseas relief and development agency, was recently cited as the third largest U.S. provider of relief aid for tsunami victims by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

AP and CNS materials contributed to this report.