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The Filipino International Baptist Church's eastside campus is collecting non-perishable items for victims of the typhoon in the Philippines. The church is at 2375 St. Johns Bluff Road S., Suite 307.
Jax Daily Record Friday, Nov. 15, 201312:00 PM EST

Grieving, praying and fundraising

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by: David Chapman

Marilyn Wolfe says she's lucky.

Her eight siblings, her aunts and uncles and all of their families survived Typhoon Haiyan, the powerful storm that devastated the Philippines one week ago. They are residents of villages around Tacloban City, the port city many say was the hardest hit. It's where Wolfe grew up.

For one of her friends, the news hasn't been as positive. An aunt is missing.

"She is gone," Wolfe said, holding back tears. "But we do not know where. … They just want to find the aunt."

Wolfe is a member of the eastside campus of Filipino International Baptist Church, a place where she and others continue to say prayers for the typhoon victims.

Campus pastor Nonie Sables says many of the church's patrons, particularly the eastside campus, have relatives or friends from Leyte and its capital of Tacloban City.

"They are wondering if their loved ones, relatives are affected," Sobles said Wednesday, just before a prayer meeting. "It's hard to see them suffering when we know we are in a better position."

He says the people who have contacted him haven't really sought solace. Instead, they're asking how they can help. Both the eastside campus and Mandarin location are collecting canned goods and other non-perishable items it will send abroad.

And, at Sobles' request, the Jacksonville Baptist Association and its 150-plus church network will collect a special offering Sunday for assisting the Philippines.

"It is tough to see the suffering," he said.

Cheryl Carangue lived in Ormoc City, southwest of Tacloban City, for most of her life before she immigrated to Australia and ultimately to the U.S. in 2000.

Her brother and family survived the storm. She received an email from her cousin that they are living in a car, as most homes have no roofs. She feels fortunate they have a vehicle to turn to — it's a resource not everyone has.  

"My family is OK, but I know Filipinos here who lost loved ones," Carangue said. "It's unfortunate."

Carangue serves on the board of We Filipinos Inc., whose mission is to support the Filipino and Filipino-American community through programming to improve socioeconomics, health and well-being.

It annually presents the Filipino Pride Day, this year held Oct. 19, that features food, fun and entertainment.

In the past week, the Facebook page and Twitter feed for Filipino Pride Day has turned to a resource for people to share news, receive updates on loved ones.

"Update from a Jax family. They made contact with only 1 family member so far but the conversation was cut short because connection was lost," one Facebook post from Thursday begins. "That person had to go 13 miles from Palompon to Isabel, Leyte in search of food and water. There was none to be found in either area and help has not yet reached them."

Social media also is a place to post reminders of fundraising efforts, such as one We Filipinos Inc. is hosting from 7-11 p.m. tonight at the Maharlika Hall & Sports Grill, 14255 Beach Blvd.

The event originally was for earthquake victims of the Philippines, but the recent typhoon changed that, said Doreen Flippin, director of We Filipinos Inc.

"It's been an overwhelmingly positive response," Flippin said.

So positive that the 250-person capacity for the restaurant has been eclipsed, resulting in overflow tents planned for the parking lots.

"I did not expect this type of reaction from people," says Carangue, whose accounting firm also is a sponsor.

Flippin says people can pay the $25 ticket price at the door and no one will be sent away, but she preaches patience given the size and scope originally planned. For each ticket sold, $15 will go toward relief efforts, the other $10 to the restaurant for the food.

People also can donate through the Filipino Pride Day website, fpdjax.com.

Since the disaster, the American Red Cross Northeast Florida Chapter also has been an outlet for relief. Donations continue to come in online and the organization took part in a local telethon that raised almost $20,000, says Christian Smith, chapter spokeswoman. To donate online, visit redcross.org.

Corporate sponsors also have stepped up and one of the services Smith calls a "highlight" is a tracing service that people can use to help find loved ones abroad. A handful of Florida cases have been opened so far.

"It really brings it back home," Smith said.

Flippin and Carangue caution that those who make donations make sure it's with a reliable organization that will ensure the supplies and donations reach those truly in need.

It's the same precaution Wolfe has.

"There are people there who…" she says, trailing off. "Corruption."

Wolfe and several others of Filipino International said they'll continue to pray. Much of the beginning of their Wednesday service focused on the victims abroad.

"They are my strength," Wolfe said, motioning to the dozen or so others. "My extension family."

A harmonica plays in the background and the pastor has his guitar in hand.

A PowerPoint presentation illuminates words to a prayer song on the wall. Prayers for the victims half a world away and for those grieving here.

[email protected]

(904) 356-2466

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