Bradenton group expands relief aid for typhoon victims

skennedy@bradenton.comNovember 16, 2013 

MANATEE -- As people continued to drop off clothing and food for victims of Typhoon Haiyan, a group Friday planned future relief efforts.

Leading the discussion was Diana Ros, a native of the Philippines, devastated Nov. 8 by the huge typhoon.

Also participating were Ellen Walther, public relations director for the Gettel Automotive Group; and Melissa Tuller and Tim Pedon, representing the Volunteers of America of Florida.

They discussed fliers about relief supply drop sites, a fundraiser planned for Dec. 7, and how goods collected for survivors would be sorted and shipped.

As the group sat around a table at Hope Lutheran Church, 4635 26th St. W., Bradenton, people arrived carrying bags of clothing and boxes of food for ty

phoon victims.

Lee De Guzman-Mahoney, 63, a retiree from Sun City Center, carried in bags of clothing and shoes.

De Guzman-Mahoney, who is a native of the Philippines, wiped away tears as she did so.

"I'm thinking of all those people," she said. "We have all these amenities -- food, homes and freedom and everything," while storm victims have so little.

"But Filipinos are very strong people," she added, saying she was thankful for the church and a chance to help them rebuild their stricken nation.

Tuller promised to provide volunteers, and Walther said she would help with press releases and fliers.

"You are just the right people" to aid the needy, said Ros, who is affiliated with the nonprofit organization Gift2care.

Also Friday, Bright House Networks announced it would provide all home phone customer calls to the Philippines free of charge through the end of November.

Retroactive for calls beginning Nov. 8 and continuing through Nov. 30, the company's Home Phone customers will not be charged for calls to land lines or cell phone numbers in the Philippines, said Joe Durkin, the company's senior director for corporate communications.

Customers who are making calls to the Philippines during the program time frame will be issued a credit on their Home Phone account for any direct dial calls made to the Philippines, he said.

Credits for all calls made during the program will appear on customer accounts in January.

Calls made through telephone operators or using directory assistance, however, are not direct dial calls, so they will be charged at the usual rate, he said.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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