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San Francisco group seeking donations to help tsunami victims

Cites long-term needs for Samoan Islands population

San Francisco groups collecting donations to help victims of Tuesday's tsunami in the Samoan Islands are thinking in both the short term and long term, according to organizers.

A ship carrying the San Francisco Samoan Community Development Center's first load of donations left Saturday, according to Rena Ilasa, a case manager for the Samoan Community Center.

"We've been able to pack about 40 boxes so far," Ilasa said.

The shipment, which is headed for American Samoa, probably won't reach the islands for a few weeks, Ilasa said.

Another shipment will go out later in the month, and the group is particularly looking for donations of food, water, clothing and canned goods.

The center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today collecting donations, Ilasa said. The center is also organizing a service on Sunday that will involve all of the Samoan churches in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Volunteers are also available to pick up items from donors who don't have convenient transportation.

A group of students of Samoan descent at Thurgood Marshall High School has organized its own donation drive as well, according to the San Francisco Unified School District.

The students hope to send donations by Oct. 8, but they are still trying to figure out how to raise funds to cover shipment costs, said SFUSD spokeswoman Heidi Anderson.

Many of the donations are Samoan-centric items because the students have solicited items from their own families, she added. They hope to expand their donation drive next week.

The student population at Thurgood Marshall is 5.1 percent Pacific Islander, compared to a district average of 1.3 percent, according to the California Department of Education.

For more information, contact the Samoan Community Center, (415) 841-1086 or check the group's Website at www.samoancenter.org

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