Tsunami victims in Southeast Asia will soon receive aid from the UCSB community as student groups and local restaurants organize to help in the relief effort.
This Sunday, Jan. 9, at 11 a.m., the Student Progressive Asian American Movement (SPAAM), the Asian Resource Center (ARC), Students for a Free Tibet and several Associated Students boards and committees will host a relief forum in the MultiCultural Center lounge. Participants will discuss and plan strategies to help victims of the tsunami and will later partake in a candle light vigil in Storke Plaza at 7:30 p.m. Local businesses, such as Sushi Teri and Woodstock’s Pizza are also holding fundraisers to help in the relief effort.
Jason Gandia, a fourth-year business economics major and member of SPAAM, said he was inspired to organize the forum after witnessing the devastating effects of the tsunami on television.
“This is a real human experience everyone can relate to,” Gandia said.
Miguel Mendoza, a fourth-year global studies major and co-coordinator of SPAAM, said the forum will involve a teach-in and organization planning. After the forum, those attending will break apart into five groups to discuss preferred approaches to raising money and supplies.
“It’s good to have a diverse range of tactics when dealing with an issue such as this,” Mendoza said.
Various campus groups, Mendoza said, are already developing ideas to raise money and public support. Members of the Residence Halls Association will be displaying white ribbons — white being the color of mourning in Southeast Asian cultures — to express solidarity with the victims. He also said the A.S. Women’s Commission is planning a benefit concert.
Justin Pabian, a CalPIRG member and second-year political science major, said CalPIRG is petitioning student support for a fundraising program in university-owned dining halls. Under the program, Pabian said, students could choose to have the estimated cost of one meal — which the students would opt to forego — donated to a relief effort fund.
A.S. President Cervin Morris said he and other Legislative Council members will be tabling in the Arbor and other locations, asking students to deposit money into a donation box. All of the money raised will go to Direct Relief, a Goleta-based international aid organization. He also said he and External Vice President Jared Renfro will be working together to find outside resources.
“We are going to different local businesses… to see if they’ll donate a portion of their sales – maybe five percent,” Morris said.
Morris also said Rep-At-Large and President of Phi Sigma Kappa Jason Everitt suggested his fraternity hold a poker tournament and donate the proceeds to victims of the tsunami, citing the previous success of such charity events.
Mendoza said, despite current student group efforts, relief efforts need to become a long-term commitment.
“It’s going to take three to five years to stabilize the region,” Mendoza said.
Keiko Mayata, the owner of Sushi Teri restaurants, is holding a fundraiser at all Sushi Teri locations, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday. According to a press release from the restaurant chain, Mayata has pledged to match up to $15,000 in donated funds. To attract donors, Mayata is also giving away free meals.
Arty Artnandez, Woodstock’s Pizza shift manager and a fourth-year history major, said Woodstock’s is offering a “tsunami pizza” deal. He said customers can donate $25 — all of which goes to Direct Relief — in return for a coupon for a free one-topping pizza.
“Twenty-five dollars [of donated money is equivalent to] medical supplies for a month,” Artnandez said.