When Geordann Daguplo, a Filipino-American senior at West Haven High School, learned of the devastation in Typhoon Haiyan’s wake, he began gathering donations from New Haven, Hamden and West Haven schools and the Filipino community in Connecticut.
Daguplo’s family lives in Mindanal, in the southern Philippines, and his fundraising campaign has raised thousands of dollars so far. Daguplo said that he has been impressed by the compassion and support Connecticut’s Filipino community has shown his project.
A few of Daguplo’s relatives in Tacloban were missing, but are now accounted for in a hospital. His mother’s first cousin barely survived the storm.
“When water rushed into [my mother’s first cousin’s house], he climbed up to the roof, jumped onto a tree and held on for two hours. The water was rushing over his body,” Daguplo said. Despite being stabbed in the leg by a large nail, his relative later made his way to the hospital alone, as there was no help available.
Such stories moved Daguplo to initiate a fundraising campaign back in the New Haven area by reaching out to schools, friends and other Fillipions in Connecticut. Last Saturday, hundreds of Connecticut Filipinos gathered for a fundraising drive at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Hamden. They packed medical supplies, clothes, toys and other nonperishables into hundreds of boxes, which will be shipped to the Philippines by Operation Blessing, a nonprofit organization that channels disaster relief. The Philippine-American Association of Connecticut (PAAC) is also helping him implement these projects.
“At the event, I felt like we all knew each other,” he said. “The Philippines is one big community; we understand that we need to help each other. Everyone is so welcoming.”
Many of his non-Filipino friends were also moved to contribute to the campaign. He has received donations from organizations within West Haven High School, including half of the swim and football team’s 50/50 raffles. Teachers at the high school put out boxes to collect money and a librarian at the school helped him hang flyers in the hallway. Additionally, at his school’s football home game last Friday, representatives from the PAAC set up a donation table outside the ticket booth. Daguplo said that many people at the game donated money.
Beyond his school, Daguplo has reached out to friends from Hamden High School and Notre Dame High School (West Haven) who have put up posters around their schools or driven to Hamden to deliver and unload boxes of supplies. Stop & Shop has allowed him to hold a fundraiser outside their store and Staples has donated the boxes in which they will pack donations.
Although his campaign efforts have received considerable attention in the past week, Daguplo said that his campaign is similar to other Phillipine relief fundraising efforts.
“All the campaigns have the same motive: to help out the Philippines,” he said. “We have to help them build from the bottom up again, but it’s going to take a while.”
Aside from the thousands of dollars he has already raised, Daguplo is organizing and performing for a fundraising concert organized at Edith E. Mackrille School.
Daguplo’s father has helped transport donations, including clothes and shampoo, to Hamden, and said he is proud of his son’s accomplishments.
News of Daguplo’s campaign has reached the Yale community.
“Hearing this, I feel proud to be part of the Filipino community. I’m sure that the efforts will snowball and culminate into something much greater,” said Chris Dee ’15, former political chair of KASAMA.
While there is no specific donation target, the deadline for the donation drive in West Haven High School is Dec. 14.