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Donations for Philippine typhoon victims stuck in Chicago

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Updated: December 17, 2013 6:07AM

When Catherine David told her cabdriver where she was going Friday morning and what she was doing — helping out at a North Side Filipino typhoon relief collections center — he told her to forget about the fare. Donate it to the cause.

“I was blessed to have that cabdriver,” said David, who is Filipino and lives in Portage Park.

David’s was one of countless stories of simple human kindness coming out of the Filipino-American Council of Greater Chicago Friday, as donation after donation poured in, one week after Typhoon Haiyan killed thousands and left at least 600,000 homeless.

“Originally, we were expecting maybe 100 boxes,” said Rose Tibayan, one of the relief effort organizers. That effort began Tuesday.

Instead, they counted boxes in the thousands — stacked six, seven, eight high — in the West Irving Park building’s parking lot, the basement, anywhere where there was space. Children’s clothes, noodles, canned chili, bandages, bottled water, perfume — even a pair of fashionable high-heeled shoes arrived. The sound of ripping packaging tape echoed through the building, as dozens of volunteers repackaged supplies in preparation for their journey to the devastated regions of the Philippines.

But relief effort hit a snag, organizers at the center said Friday. A military contractor bringing supplies to the Philippines was supposed to be providing room on his aircraft, which hadn’t yet got off the ground.

“We believe right now that he’s caught up in red tape,” said Tibayan said. “So we’re trying to find other means to get it over there.”

Gov. Pat Quinn, who showed up Friday to shake hands and offer support to the volunteers, said his office is working with the U.S. Department of Defense to allow an Illinois National Guard transport plane to deliver supplies.

“In order to fly to Manila, we need the permission of the United States Department of Defense, which we’re seeking right now,” Quinn said.

Volunteers openly wept when Quinn declared: “We are all Filipinos today, all across Illinois!”

Quinn came and went, and still the supplies kept arriving.

Anthony Oriolo, a college admissions adviser from Bolingbrook, arrived with a trailer full of stuff collected from co-workers.

Oriolo, who is of Filipino ancestry, has a 19-month-old daughter. He said the images of suffering moved him to action.

“I see kids crying an hour or two hours for just water and food,” Oriolo said. “My daughter cries probably five seconds for milk and I’m there. Two hours without water and food. How is that going to feel if that’s your kid?”

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