Thousands of generous Utahns help the Philippines

The first shipment of donated goods arrives by plane in the Philippines. (Photo courtesy Global Goods)

The first shipment of donated goods arrives by plane in the Philippines. (Photo courtesy Global Goods)

Two local charities have joined forces to help the victims of the recent Philippines typhoon any way they can. Their efforts are scrappy, centered on being efficient and resourceful, and using every helping hand extended their way.

Charity Vision International, a Provo-based group normally focused on providing cataract surgeries to patients in need, has shifted its mission temporarily to meet the pressing needs of Typhoon Haiyan victims. They quickly organized a group of 14 Utah volunteers, many of whom have language skills and medical training. Since their arrival in the Philippines on Nov. 17, they’ve worked to treat everything from dehydration to diarrhea and to clear away debris.

“One of the side benefits from this early relief effort is the ‘spark of hope’ generated among the locals as this team of volunteer professionals showed up to help,” said Roderick Davies, Cedar Hills resident and long-time Charity Vision supporter, in an email to Charity Vision headquarters sent last Wednesday from Cebu, Philippines.

Back at home, Highland resident Brian Oaks is helping get the word out about Charity Vision’s efforts. As owner of Global Goods, a fair trade retailer that helps people all over the world find markets for their goods, he has ties with the Philippines that make him a valuable resource for those looking to give. Global Goods works with a Filipino family, selling the coconut oil they produce to buyers in the United States. When the storm hit, helping the people they work with was their first priority.

“We were blessed that no one from the family we work with was killed, but a couple of their homes were lost,” Oaks said. “We’re helping to rebuild those.”

Oaks is also using his business expertise to organize and ship donated goods to the victims.

“We have good relationships with shipping companies, because we’re constantly shipping goods in from the Philippines,” he said. “A lot of local people have offered to collect donations, but just don’t know how to get them there. That’s where we come in.”

Global Goods also welcomed the help of Austin Bailey, a student at Lone Peak High School who is working toward his Eagle Scout award. Bailey has organized volunteers to unload, sort and pack everything from medical supplies to diapers donated from Utahans from Salt Lake to St. George. They’re shipping items that fulfill pressing needs by airplane right away and sending everything else by container to arrive in 30 days.

Global Goods is also helping Charity Vision mobilize Utah Valley residents who want to pay their way to the Philippines to volunteer in person. So far, they have 85 people interested in going with a second wave of volunteers.

The best thing Utah Valley residents can do now to support the efforts of Charity Vision and Global Goods is to make monetary donations. They’ve raised about $20,000 in individual contributions so far, but the need is infinite.

“Whenever you donate clothing or other items that have to be shipped, there’s always an added cost,” Oaks said. “There are lots of things we can buy over there that would be cost-effective, but that requires cash.”

Charity Vision has put a temporary hold on donations to cataract surgeries. For now, everything you donate will go to Philippines relief. To donate click here.

To register your interest in going to the Philippines as a volunteer click here.


Samantha Strong Murphey is a lover of greenery, glitter and goat cheese, an advocate of media literacy, human rights and karaoke for all. She earned bachelor's degree in communications from Brigham Young University and is a former writer and editor at Utah Valley Magazine. Now, she works as a full-time freelance writer and blogger based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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