Fast food chain, Haitian farmers inspired to donate to Yolanda victims

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau and Balitang America Staff

Dec. 12, 2013

LOS ANGELES – It’s been over a month since typhoon Yolanda devastated the central Philippines, but the giving continues, this time from the country’s largest Asian fast food chain Panda Express.

The popular Chinese-American eatery donated nearly $650,000 to the American Red Cross and the Tzu Chi foundation.

“Especially for the community that you come together as Filipino community to support each other which inspired us to do even more for more each other,” Peggy Cherng, co-founder/co-chairman Panda Restaurant group said.

On hand for the check presentation at the Ramon Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts were members of the Philippine Consulate and elected officials including Filipino-American Cerritos Mayor Mark Pulido and Rob Bonta, the first Filipino-American elected to the state assembly.

For Bonta, the devastation hits close to home. Some of his staff’s families were affected by the super typhoon while his mother grew up in the Visayas.

“It’s phenomenal to see thousands of dollars sometimes up to a million or more,” Bonta said. “It’s phenomenal to see the world, United States, California coming together to provide support for the Philippines.”

The money, $322,000 which was raised by associates and customers, and the other $322,000 matched by the company, will go to the American Red Cross and the Tzu Chi Foundation.

The Tzu Chi Foundation has been using its funds to create jobs for typhoon victims, jobs that will help rebuild homes and communities.

Like many schools throughout the country, the school’s Red Cross Club also raised its own $700, which Panda Express said it will also match.

Farmers helping farmers

Meanwhile, knowing exactly how it feels to recover from a natural disaster, a group of Haitian farmers pooled together as much money as they could to donate to fellow farmers in the Philippines who were displaced by Typhoon Yolanda.

The Haitian farmers donated a check for $150.

Philippine Honorary Consul in Haiti Fitzgerald Brandt said the Haitian farmers are very poor, and that their act of kindness was “1,000,000 times stronger than the actual amount of the transaction.”

Philippine officials said farmers were badly hit by Yolanda, with the agricultural sector suffering nearly $400 million in losses.

You can contact Steve Angeles at steve_angeles@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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