Relief effort open to community |

Relief effort open to community

Janet Urquhart

“We normally think of history as one catastrophe after another, war followed by war, outrage by outrage – almost as if history were nothing more than all the narrative of human pain, assembled in sequence … But history is also the narratives of grace, the recountings of those blessed and inexplicable moments when someone did something for someone else, saved a life, bestowed a gift, gave something beyond what was required by circumstance.”- Thomas CahillSo begins a letter to local government employees, who have been offered a chance to double their contributions to a tsunami relief fund established by the city of Aspen at its bank, Wells Fargo of Aspen.While the fund was set up as an opportunity for city and Pitkin County employees to make contributions, along with employees of the Aspen sanitation and fire districts, the effort is open to the general public as well.Residents are welcome to stop by the city finance office at City Hall and hand over a check that will be pooled with the city/county effort, according to Sandra Menter-Berry, financial analyst in the housing office and an organizer of the fund.”It’s an open opportunity for anybody in the community who feels they haven’t done enough or is contributing for the first time,” Menter-Berry said.”The tragedy of the Indian Ocean tsunami is starting to recede from our collective awareness,” notes the letter to employees announcing the relief effort. “Recovery from the devastation is only beginning and will take years, maybe decades. Relief aid will continue to be needed during that entire time.”The Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami devastated 11 Indian Ocean nations and claimed an estimated 160,000 lives.The Aspen City Council has already agreed to donate $5,000 for tsunami relief, to be apportioned equally between Americares, Save the Children and Habitat for Humanity. The matching fund for employee donations, with $5,000 matching funds from Wells Fargo, could produce another $10,000 or more for the effort. The goal, Menter-Berry said, is to generate $15,000 by March 31, including the council’s contribution and the employee fund with the bank’s matching dollars.The finance office began accepting donations at its customer service counter on Wednesday; donations received through March 31 will be matched by Wells Fargo. Checks should be made payable to: Aspen/Pitkin Tsunami Relief Fund.Donations can also be mailed to: City of Aspen Finance Department; 130 S. Galena St.; Aspen, CO 81611; Attn: Tsunami Relief Fund.Donors will receive a receipt and a letter from the city documenting their tax-deductible donation. Employee donations will be contributed equally between Americares, Save the Children, and Habitat for Humanity. Wells Fargo matching grant funds will be contributed to Red Cross International and Global Impact.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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