Around Seattle, some local business owners and community leaders are raising funds for those impacted by the underwater volcanic eruption and tsunami.
SEATTLE — Although Tonga is thousands of miles away, the Polynesian nation is top of mind for many Puget Sound residents.
The first planeloads of relief aid made it to Tonga on Thursday, five days after the island nation was rocked by an underwater volcanic eruption, triggering a tsunami that has crippled communications.
Six thousand miles away, back here in Seattle, some local businesses and community leaders are fundraising to bring some relief to those impacted.
Tony Puloka is the founder of Radio Tonga Seattle, a station that set out to unite the estimated 3,000 Tongans who now live in the greater Seattle area. Much of the programming includes financial advice for small businesses, but that all changed on Saturday when disaster struck.
“We want to keep people educated on what’s going on in our home country. This affected 80% of the people in Tonga. Some of them have lost everything.” said Puloka.
Radio Tonga Seattle is now leveraging their community connections to raise funds. They posted this message on Facebook telling community members they were starting a GoFundMe to send containers of relief aid.
Tacoma small business owner Celina Tupou Fulivai said she and other entrepreneurs are turning to social media to raise awareness about the devastation in Tonga and to encourage donations.
Celina set up a GoFundMe to make direct payments to families in Tonga that are in need of immediate assistance. She’s already received dozens of applications for relief support and is aiming to raise at least $20,000.
Radio Tonga Seattle said being thousands of miles away doesn’t deter the fundraising efforts here in the Seattle area.
“Helping is second nature to Tongans. That’s how the Tongans feel about being wealthy. It’s how much you give, not how much you accumulate.”
How you can donate
Disaster Pa’anga Assistance for citizens of Tonga fundraiser
Tonga volcanic disaster relief fundraiser from Tonga Radio Seattle