Coloradans Mobilize To Help Tsunami Victims

Many Pitching In To Make A Difference

From NBA fans to children raiding their piggy banks, Coloradans chipped in to help victims of last weekend's tsunamis around the Indian Ocean.

Restaurants set out donation jars or planned "required donations" for New Year's Eve, callers lit up the phone lines at Red Cross offices statewide and expatriates from afflicted countries planned fund-raisers.

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"We were so distraught," said Kerry Hebert, manager of the Hornet restaurant in Denver, which will require a $10 donation to the Red Cross for admission on New Year's Eve.

"How lucky have we been in Denver? It really puts things in perspective. It's time to show we care," she said.

A giant promotional vodka bottle set near the front door was already filling up with donations. "It's all paper. Most of it looks like fives," Hebert said.

Tut Tut Thai restaurants in the Denver area were also collecting donations for Tsunami victims. The stores had full collection jars on their counters, thanks to generous customers.

In Aspen, Sri Lankan native Preethi Burkholder and her husband, Trent, planned a presentation Monday of photos from their numerous trips to her homeland. They were asking for donations of at least $15 for admission, and all proceeds will go to the Asafo Global Medical Fund for medical supplies for Sri Lanka.

"Hospitals there have been completely destroyed so there are really no medical supplies," she said.

Burkholder, 31, said her mother escaped injury but they have been unable to reach other relatives.

She and her husband plan to help distribute medical supplies, water-purification equipment and other aid in Sri Lanka within two weeks.

The India Association of Colorado, Tamil Association of Colorado and other organizations of people from affected countries planned fund-raisers. The Sri Sri Radha Govinda Temple in Denver scheduled a program Sunday to memorialize victims and raise money for relief.

The Denver Nuggets encouraged fans to donate to the Red Cross at Friday's game against Philadelphia in Denver. Denver Sister Cities International began collecting donations for Chennai, on India's eastern coast.

The Avenue Theater in downtown Denver scheduled a special showing of "Metamorphoses" on Monday, asking for donations of $50 a ticket for Doctors Without Borders.

The Archdiocese of Denver asked all its parishes to participate in a special collection for distribution by Catholic Relief Services, which has committed $25 million to the relief effort.

The First Data Western Union Foundation, the fund-raising arm of the Denver-based conglomerate, donated $1 million to the Red Cross.

A donor who requested anonymity dropped off a $50,000 check at the Mile High Chapter of the American Red Cross in Denver. Brothers Antonio, Tomas and Peter Cabrera, ages 3, 5 and 7, dropped by Thursday morning with plastic sandwich bags holding a few dollars each, Red Cross spokesman Robert Thompson said.

Donations poured into the Western Colorado Red Cross in Grand Junction as well, with about $5,000 arriving by Thursday morning. Several people volunteered to go to south Asia to help, but the agency had to turn them down, said Executive Director Jean Hermanson. She said the best way Americans can help with the relief effort for now is to donate cash.

"We've had calls from individuals and organizations from Aspen to Telluride that are planning to conduct informal fund-raising at their locations to raise money and send to the Red Cross," Hermanson said.


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