An Aiken organization is giving back after raising more than $6,000 in aid for those devastated and displaced millions in the Philippines.
The Filipino-American Association of Greater Aiken used a combination family Christmas get-together and fundraiser to spread awareness and gather aid for those severely affected by Typhoon Haiyan on Saturday. Haiyan hit more of the southern portion of the Philippines on Nov. 8, affecting about 15 million and displacing about 4 million people, according to the United Nations Office.
While many families did not have members affected by the storm, Amelia Parayno, a nurse at Aiken Regional Medical Centers and association member, said those affected are still their people.
“We decided to have this as a Christmas party for all of us in the association and for other community members, and it’s also for donations to get together and donate from our Filipino-Americans back to our people at home,” Parayno said. “This is the only way, and it’s a good combination to give back to the victims.”
The Aiken Municipal Building Conference Center was decorated in the holiday spirit for the fundraiser with wreaths, ribbons, ornaments and Christmas trees. Traditional foods such as spring rolls and pandit (noodles) were served, and an auction was held, while Santa Claus made an appearance and took pictures with children.
Parayno and the majority of the other members are all nurses at Aiken Regional. Aiken Regional donated more than $1,000 toward Philippine’s Typhoon Haiyan aid. All of the money collected will be given to the ABS-CBN Foundation’s Sagip Kapamilya Typhoon Haiyan relief program.
Rhoderick Parungao, president of the Filipino-American Association, said with billions of dollars donated already to the area, this money will go toward rebuilding and rehabilitation.
“Fortunately, I’m not from the area that was hit, which is more of the southern part,” Parungao said. “We do have members who have family members affected by the typhoon. This wasn’t just an exclusive thing, and we had a lot of people helping out. We’re still Filipino by blood, and we still want to help.”
Maayan Schechter is the city beat reporter with Aiken Standard.
An Atlanta native, she has a mass communications-journalism degree from the University of North Carolina Asheville.