An Island of giving

In one day, one of the world's largest natural disasters took tens of thousands of lives. On Sunday, Dec. 26, 2004, a 9.0 earthquake in the Indian Ocean caused tsunamis that flooded the shores of 11 countries, leveling cities and islands. The toll as of Monday was nearly 140,000 dead. The lack of food and clean water could threaten survivors and claim more lives from diseases such as cholera and dysentery.

Combined, the relief effort pledged by the world's nations has surpassed $2 billion. Though much of the aid from the United States is from national organizations, Mercer Island residents are getting into the relief effort as well.

Last week, a group of Mercer Island High School students baked homemade pastries for sale and are donating the money to the Red Cross. The students sold their goods outside the north-end QFC and raised more than $700 in three hours. Islander MIddle School students are also collecting cash and coins for the relief effort.

Bellevue-based business Seattle Sun Tan, owned by Island resident Scott Swerland, is collecting baby food and other non-perishable items for infants that will be sent directly to the American Red Cross and the International Response Fund. Drop off donations at 10708 Main St. in Bellevue.

Many Island churches, such as the Presbyterian, Emmanuel Episcopal and St. Monica, are collecting donations and passing them along to their national organizations' relief efforts.

Redeemer Lutheran Church will take up a special collection for World Relief and Northwest Medical Teams. Pastor Bill Clemens also has a trip planned to Thailand in April, and will be visiting several of the church's efforts in Southeast Asia. Donations can be dropped off at the church or sent by mail to 6001 Island Crest Way.

No doubt, more efforts will emerge both nationally and locally in the coming days and weeks. We salute all of individuals lending a hand for not just being a part of the local community, but of the world community.

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