Donations large and small pour in for Oso mudslide victims

EVERETT — Donations continue to pour in to support relief efforts for victims of the Oso mudslide.

In the first days since the slide, more than $1 million in donations had come in to three large organizations: the United Way, the American Red Cross and the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation.

The single largest donation to slide relief came Friday from the Snoqualmie Tribe, which gave $275,000.

The Snoqualmie’s donation will be spread out among six different recipients, including $50,000 each to the Red Cross’ Oso relief fund, the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation, the cities of Darrington and Arlington and the Oso fire department.

Another $25,000 was pledged to support Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue’s canine unit.

“The tribal council recognizes that each group has different needs,” tribe communications officer Jaime Martin said.

In particular, Snoqualmie Tribe members have been working on the ground alongside the canine units, and had recommended the tribal council support them.

“They’ve played a huge part in this,” Martin said.

More donations have poured in this week, ranging from six-figure contributions from the Tulalip and Stillaguamish tribes, the Boeing Co. and its employees, the Starbucks Foundation and JPMorgan Chase, to smaller but still significant corporations, such as a $25,000 gift from AT&T Thursday, to efforts by community groups and individuals.

United Way of Snohomish County alone has raised about $950,000 since it launched its relief fund Tuesday afternoon, said Neil Parekh, vice president of marketing.

By Thursday evening, the organization had surpassed what its largest workplace campaign raised all last year. Earlier in March, United Way had honored Premera Blue Cross for raising $615,000 in 2013.

“The very first call I took this morning at 6 a.m. was a gentleman who told me he was on unemployment getting $170 checks. He pledged $100,” Parekh said Thursday.

Larger donations to United Way on Friday came from Microsoft, Providence General and Nordstrom.

The running total amount of donations is likely to continue rising, not just with the larger fundraising drives but also with numerous smaller fundraisers, donation jars, hat-passers and community events that are being set up every day.

At Arlington High School, students in the Art Club designed and sold T-shirts Thursday and Friday to their fellow students. On Saturday, they will be selling more outside the Arlington Haggen grocery store, 20115 74th Ave NE, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“The whole school is really all getting together and pitching in. We’re fortunate here in Arlington, so we felt we needed to give back in Oso and do whatever we can,” said junior Felix Neeleman, 16, who is helping run the drive.

The shirts are $15 each and the club is donating the proceeds to the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation.

The foundation’s balance stood at approximately $412,000 Friday, said board member Heather Logan. (A running total from the Red Cross was not available.) Compared with large donations from single organizations, many of the donations received since have been in smaller amounts from individuals or small groups, she said.

“Lots and lots and lots of people are just giving what they can,” Logan said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com.

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