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Central Oregonians rally to help the Philippines

By Kandra Kent
Published On: Nov 14 2013 11:57:08 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Kandra Kent spoke with Central Oregonians who have family in the Philippines and businesses hosting fundraisers to help out.

BEND, Ore. -

Devastation half a world away, leaving some speechless who feel it so close to home.

"We can't put into words what we felt when we saw it," Filipino American Association of the High Desert chairwoman Nenette Reynolds said Thursday.

She said she's been on edge waiting to hear from various family and loved ones -- and has heard stories that brought her to tears along the way.

"My sister-in-law, who was talking to her sister who was in Tacloban, she said, 'The roof is coming off the house and I have to go now.'"

Reynolds, a Bend resident, said she's lucky: She recently found out her family in the Philippines is safe. She said most of her family was farther south of where Typhoon Haiyan wrecked havoc.

La Pine resident Irene Walters is also breathing a sign of relief -- her family overseas is also safe.

She said she found out about the typhoon on Facebook --her mother was visiting relatives in the Philippines --but Walters wasn't exactly sure where her mom may have been at the time the storm hit.

"It was a scary feeling that I've never experienced before, because it was my mom," Walters said.

Walters' mother was on a plane headed to America at the time of our interview.

But not everyone is so lucky.

"We're getting a fair number of calls from folks that live here that either have family members that live in the Philippines, or family members that were vacationing in that area," said American Red Cross spokeswoman Lisa Stroup in Bend. "Phone lines are down still, and they can't reach those folks."

Reynolds has been trying to comfort those still waiting to hear from family.

"We have a few ladies here who are from Tacloban and Leyte," Reynolds said. "One lady, she hasn't heard from her family. I can feel her pain of not knowing."

But for many on the High Desert, feelings of helplessness have evolved into the will to make a difference.

Walters said she saw a piece NewsChannel 21 aired about a young woman who rallied her crossfit gym in Bend to start a fundraiser.

"I realized I'm very good at watching stories about devastation on the news, and you think, 'Oh that's so sad, those poor people,' and then you change the channel," Walters said.

But with a disaster that hit her heart, this time it was different.

"I knew from that second on that I had to do something," Walters said.

You can find Walters on next Tuesday at Ponderosa Pizza in La Pine.

She and her husband's business, Perry Walters Construction, will be there with several other businesses, matching donations and educating the public about the Philippines and the typhoon.

Ponderosa Pizza will donate a percentage of revenue sales to relief efforts.

The event primarily takes place from 5 to 8 p.m., but Walters said donations can be collected all day.

Reynolds, along with others in the Filipino American Association, is hosting a free dinner Saturday night. The group will be collecting money donations as well as clothes, blankets, canned food and other relief items.

The dinner takes place from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Cuppa Yo's three locations are hosting a fundraising effort on Friday. The company will donate 50 percent of sale proceeds to victims of the typhoon.

And a prayer vigil for typhoon victims will be held Sunday from 5-7 p.m. at Rock Arbor Villa, 2200 NE Hwy. 20 in Bend, also accepting monetary or in-kind donations for victims.

Follow these and other events being planned at our Events Calendar, at http://events.ktvz.com.

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