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Minnesotans find ways to help typhoon victims

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The Duluth News Tribune reports students at the College of St. Scholastica are collecting donations to send to the Philippines. The effort was spearheaded by Misha Cruz, a student from Manila, the capital city.

“It is terrifying to have to watch this devastation,” she said. “Thousands of people have died. It is completely horrible.”

Cruz’s immediate family is safe but she knows many people who are not. Other international students are helping her arrange donations to the International Commitee of the Red Cross. Donations are also being collected by the Kiwanis Club.

John Ray Abelges was among a community of Filipinos passing through Duluth when the typhoon hit. He was on the crew of the Netherlands-flagged Victoriaborg, which was about to arrive in Duluth to load grain .

He was able to watch TV and Internet reports on the ship, but he's been unable to contact his family since the typhoon hit more than a week ago.

“I haven't heard anything from them yet,” he said.

Other crew members also have family in the Philippines, Abelges said.

“We are helping each other get through these troubling times,” he said. “I ask people to pray that we can help survive this tragedy.”

A Seafarer's website says there are more than 350,000 crew members from the Philippines. Filipinos comprise a third of the seamen who haul cargo between global ports. Many of those ports -- but not Duluth -- have emergency communications systems set up to help crew get in touch with family members.

In New Hope, St. Joseph Parish Community hosted an event for the Philippine-Minnesotan Medical Association Saturday, according to KARE 11. Organizers say they hope donors remember cash is the best gift for a distant crisis.

"What we're asking people is when they give or donate their goods, also consider giving financial assistance to send the supplies to the Philippines," said Dr. Bernard Quebral with the Philippine-Minnesotan Medical Association.

Organizers say it costs about $12,000 to ship a container full of supplies to affected areas.

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