As of this week, campus organizations and local Isla Vista businesses have raised nearly $50,000 of relief money in the wake of the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia last December.
The groups and businesses have collectively held nine major fundraisers for the relief effort over the past two months, including donation drives, parties and walks. All proceeds from the fundraisers were donated to Direct Relief, a Goleta-based organization that sends medical supplies to aid disaster-stricken areas around the world.
The Asian Resource Center and members of the Student Progressive Asian American Movement (SPAAM) raised $2,500 dollars, Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) raised $400 dollars and students in the Asian American Social Movements course raised approximately $2,000. Associated Students raised the most of the student organizations – donating over $5,500.
Diane Fujino, an associated professor of Asian American studies, and students from her class held the most recent event, the Beach Walk for Life, last Saturday. The event, which raised approximately $2,000, began with a moment of silence in remembrance of the people killed by the tsunami. Participants then walked toward the beach from the lawn by the UCen lagoon to Campus Point, and finally back to the lawn. A reception followed the beach walk and featured several cultural performances.
Martin Malinis, a senior Asian American studies major and beach walk organizer, said the class decided to conduct the event on the beach because of its natural significance.
“The beach is a place where you go and your mind is free to think about other things,” Malinis said. “It is symbolic of life. It symbolizes health, freedom – it’s food for the soul.”
Malinis said that over 200 people attended the event, each participant making either a $10 or $20 donation. In addition, students sold over 200 T-shirts and will continue to sell them until the end of the quarter. All proceeds were given to Direct Relief.
“There has been critiques of different organizations. We chose Direct Relief because the money goes straight to the region,” Malinis said. “The organization is in good standing; they make sure the money goes to the people who need it.”
The event ended with three cultural performances: the Asian American Christian Fellowship, a rock group, K.P.’s Urban, a hip-hop dance team and the UCSB Bhangra dance group.
Malinis said the event made him realize the benefits of philanthropy.
“I think a lot of people don’t really know how it feels to be empowered unless they empower themselves to go out and make a difference,” Malinis said. “Before I started this, I was pretty much indifferent to doing community service work, and now it’s just given me a greater consciousness of how things on the news affect me.”
Yvonne Tran, a sophomore Asian American studies major and a member of SPAAM, said the organization and the Asian Resource Center raised $2,500 through a tsunami relief winter formal, which was held early last month. Tran said the event sold over 200 tickets.
Students for a Free Tibet threw a wine tasting party in Los Angeles, which was held at the end of January. Miguelito Mendoza, SFT regional coordinator and a senior Global Studies major said over 40 people attended the event.
“It was just a low-key event,” Mendoza said. “It was important for us because there are a lot of Tibetans who have resituated on the southern tip of India and were affected by the tsunami.”
A.S. hosted four fundraisers to help the victims of the tsunami, including a dollar drive where they set up a table in front of the UCen to ask students for donations.
“A lot of people gave dollar bills, but many gave more,” A.S. President Cervin Morris said.
The UCSB student government also hosted two parties, one in downtown Santa Barbara at the Sandbar, and another at a residence on Del Playa Drive. Morris said A.S. members also solicited I.V. businesses for donations, including Isla Vista Market and Sam’s To Go.
“Right now, we are working to find someone to match the money we have raised before we donate it,” he said.
The I.V. branch of Woodstock’s Pizza raised $3,700, and the local Sushi Teri Japanese restaurant raised $35,000.
Woodstock’s General Manager Dan Soucek said the restaurant offered a “tsunami pizza” deal throughout the month of January, where customers who donated $25 received a voucher for a free one-topping pizza.
“The fundraiser was better than we expected,” Soucek said. “The turnout was very good.”
Keiko Mayata, the owner of the Sushi Teri restaurant chain, said he donated money from his own pocket in addition to portions of the proceeds from his business. Mayata matched nearly $15,000 in donated funds. Among his five Sushi Teri restaurants, he said Sushi Teri raised approximately $100,000 – with the Isla Vista location raising the most money for the relief effort.
“We raised more than expected,” Mayata said. “I was surprised with how generous people were.”