Aspen couple displays perfect example of philanthropy at work |

Aspen couple displays perfect example of philanthropy at work

When a massive earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia in December, causing a tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of people and left countless others with their lives in shambles, Americans responded with an outpouring of money and supplies that actually surprised many around the world.Aid organizations were the primary beneficiaries of people’s giving, and many people in the stricken countries have no doubt benefited. Here in Aspen, a local couple took the idea of helping several steps beyond the norm. They are Trent and Preethi Burkholder, a 30-something couple who live a relatively modest, very local Aspen lifestyle in a condo at the Aspen Business Center. Yet there was nothing modest about their response to the devastation caused by the tsunami in Preethi’s home country, Sri Lanka.Trent and Preethi recently returned from a trip to some of the most devastated sections of Sri Lanka, where they distributed food and medical supplies to more than 4,000 people. Trent recounted the trip in last Sunday’s edition of The Aspen Times, providing readers with a fascinating look at hands-on philanthropy.Working with about $40,000 raised in two fund-raisers (one put on by Trent, the other by Nikki and Barclay Dodge) in Aspen, the Burkholders were able get supplies directly into the hands of the people who actually needed it. To do so, they worked with ASAFO Global Medical Trust, a Phoenix-based nonprofit that helped them build medical supply kits that could be of immediate use in Sri Lanka.Trent and Preethi traveled to Sri Lanka and, using all the connections they could muster, drove to affected areas and distributed medicine and food. With the help of locals, they even managed to access areas that were not open to major Western aid organizations. The Burkholders took a relatively small amount of money and used it to maximum advantage, directly affecting the lives of thousands of people. In the process they showed us just how far a dollar can go in a place like Sri Lanka, and just how important it is for those who are so fortunate to come to the aid of those who are so unfortunate.It was a stunning example of hands-on philanthropy for which we should all be grateful. Thank you, Trent and Preethi.

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