By Katya Yefimova Herald writer
LYNNWOOD — Christine Umayam of Lynnwood saw peaceful villages amidst vast farmland when she visited the Pangasinan province in the Philippines during a family reunion in May.
Last week, she saw images of homes and trees in waist-deep water in the town many of her relatives call home.
More than 2 million people have been affected and at least 85 people died in the heavy floods that swept through the Southeast Asian country.
August is the wettest month in the Philippines, but the heavy rainfall was aggravated by a recent tropical storm in the area.
Umayam, who was born in the United States to Filipino immigrants, has seen many floods and typhoons in her parents’ home country over the years.
This year’s the disaster is taking a heavy toll.
Umayam is the founder and director of Child United, a nonprofit that helps children around the world get education and provides relief in case of disasters. When something bad happens in Haiti or the Dominican Republic, Umayam mobilizes her network of volunteers to collect donations, pack them into boxes and ship them to the struggling nation, where local partners help distribute the supplies.
The organization is active in the Philippines, where Umayam sent supplies in past years and has a large network of helpers on the ground.
Umayam is planning a fundraiser on Aug. 18 where volunteers will sort donations and pack them into boxes.
“It’s a lot of work to pack 200 boxes,” Umayam said.
Her goal is 225 boxes, actually. That’s how much a large shipping container will fit. She also hopes to raise $10,000 to cover shipping and other associated costs.
Umayam’s home off Ash Way is one of the collection points. She sat on her porch on a recent weekday afternoon when Betty Winthers dropped off a few bags of donations.
Winthers, who also lives in Lynnwood, heard about Umayam’s organization on TV. The plight of the flood victims resonated with her. She brought some clothes and bedding.
“This is a good cause,” she said. “I saw the pictures (from the Philippines), and it was just devastating.”
Umayam met many members of her large extended family for the first time during a family reunion in May. Some of them are now among the thousands displaced by the floods.
“They are counting on me, that’s for sure,” she said.
How you can help
The fundraiser to help flood victims in the Philippines is planned from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 18 at Country Village, 23718 Bothell-Everett Highway, Bothell. If you want to volunteer or drop off donations, email email@example.com or call 50D-ONA-TION. Blankets, towels, pillows, toiletries and monetary donations are needed. To make a financial donation, go to http://childunited.com.