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Boro joins relief effort for China quake

As the death toll climbed past 40,000 in the devastating earthquake that ravaged parts of China last week, Asian Americans from Queens began mobilizing relief efforts to aid the beleaguered nation.

The Red Cross' New York chapter said groups and individuals across the borough were mobilizing relief efforts and funneling money through the international aid organization to help rescue and relief efforts in China, still reeling from a magnitude 7.9 earthquake that struck the Sichuan province May 12.

The Red Cross estimated the death toll could easily top 50,000, while hundreds of thousands more were injured and upwards of 5 million were in need of shelter as of Monday afternoon.

On Monday, City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) joined the Korean American Association of Greater New York, the Red Cross and members of the Korean community at Korea Village on Northern Boulevard to issue an appeal for monetary aid.

"At the end of the day we're all affected by a disaster of this proportion," Liu said. "This is not about who's Korean, who's Chinese, who's Asian, who's not Asian. This is about the fact that we are all members of the human race."

Red Cross International Service Program Manager Christophe Lobry-Boulanger said he was heartened to see the outpouring of aid that is being organized among Queens' Asian community. He stressed that monetary donations rather than clothes or food are critical in the early weeks after a disaster.

"Money travels fast and it's the fastest way to get help to the people who need it most," Boulanger said.

On Sunday the Rego Park-based New York United Women Association, a Chinese-American non-profit agency, held its own fund-raiser in Chinatown, collecting more than $15,000 in just four hours for the relief effort.

"This is just the beginning of our efforts to help," said Jean Lai Tong, the NYUWA president. "We are honored to work with the American Red Cross to collect much-needed funds. The Chinese community has confidence in the Red Cross and its ability to get help to the people who need it."

Businesses in Queens were also spearheading their own relief efforts this week. Crystal Windows and Doors of College Point said Monday it had already raised $3,000 through a collection from its employees. The company said it plans to match any funding raised by their employees before sending it through the Red Cross.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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