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Bowne, Flushing teens to help tsunami victims

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Students at John Bowne High School in Flushing are launching their own fund-raising efforts through the school's annual carnival, sales of banners and other initiatives. The fund-raising will include Flushing High School students as well.State Assemblyman Jimmy Meng (D-Flushing) joined school officials and the head of the local chapter of the American Red Cross Saturday to announce the school's fund raising kickoff."I'm really proud of these high schools," Meng said. "A tragedy of this magnitude requires all the world to come together." Meng spoke of the disaster's "incomprehensible" death toll and recalled Sept. 11, 2001's impact on the world."Over 200,000 lives have been lost in the tsunami tragedy," he said. "And one-third of the victims are children. I just can't take it.""How sad we were during our own 9/11 tragedy," Meng said, noting the world's generosity to Americans at the time and calling for reciprocation. "Every dollar can make a difference." The fund-raising will center on Bowne's annual Winter Carnival, to be held Jan. 21 from 6-10 p.m. at the school, located at 63-25 Main St. Half of the proceeds from the carnival, featuring food, games and prizes, will be donated to the American Red Cross. Bowne and Flushing students actively raise money for assorted causes, and the tsunami fund-raiser will be no exception, school officials said."The student union decided they wanted to do something to support tsunami victims," said Arlene Zuefle, Bowne's coordinator of student affairs. She noted that they hoped to raise at least $1,000 from the carnival. In addition, students are making a large banner for the cafeteria that supporters can contribute to by buying a wave of a smiley face, heart, or dollar to create a "wave of friendship, love and money," Zuefle said."This is more to get the school involved," said Lisa Chang, a senior officer in Bowne's student government. "I feel that some people are taking it lightly, but it's serious."Chang's classmate and fellow senior officer, Amaris Johnson, said that while the school did not expect to raise much money for the tsunami relief efforts, it was sill a way for students to participate."It makes children feel like they can do something," Amaris said. "When you see on TV that people are giving a million dollars, students can't do that, but they can still do something."The schools will donate the money to the American Red Cross, specially earmarked for rebuilding educational infrastructures in the affected countries."We're excited about the involvement," said Ed Anderson, interim director of the Queens chapter of the American Red Cross. "One hundred percent of the donations will go to the victims."Anderson said that while in-kind donations were being accepted by other agencies (for more information on making in-kind donations, call 1-800-7-INKIND), the Red Cross was soliciting monetary donations to ease the costs of shipping resources overseas. "We want to use the funds for water, sanitation, tents, basic emergency needs," he said. "We don't want to use the funds to ship overseas."In addition, he said people can call the Queens chapter of the American Red Cross for more information on missing relatives."If families are out there still waiting for word, there is a welfare inquiry hotline at 718-558-0053," Anderson said, for people asking about family members in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and India.Meng's office is accepting donations for the American Red Cross as well, and staffers will pick up checks. Call 718-358-4465 for more information.Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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