Local Filipino community rallies to help typhoon victims

At St. Columba Catholic School in Oxon Hill, about half the students are of Filipino descent. The school has not formally decided how to respond to the typhoon in the Philippines. On Thursday the principal will discuss potential options with the parish priest. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)

OXON HILL, Md. – Typhoon Haiyan devastated an area about 8,500 miles away from Washington. But the destruction hits close to home for a local community still wrestling with a way to respond.

Oxon Hill and Fort Washington have a sizable Filipino population. At St. Columba Catholic School, nearly half of all students are of Filipino descent. The parish has an even larger population.

Community members are trying to assemble programs, raise funds and schedule benefit concerts.

St. Columba’s principal, Tina Magnaye, will meet with the church pastor Rev. Father Gary Villanueva on Thursday to discuss an organized effort that could involve students.

Community members say one of the primary issues has been determining how to get tangible needs to the area.

What communication they have had with family members in the affected area has been limited. Delivery options for goods are scarce.

“I’m a nurse, and we have relief efforts at the hospital that we’re planning out,” says a mom who gave her name as Jen.

“But even then it’s hard to coordinate,” she says. “There’s no airport there so you can’t get to people you want to get to.”

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