Congressman Faleomavaega expressed his appreciation and gratitude to some 200 volunteers from the Samoan and Tongan communities in the state of Utah for collecting well over 160,000 pounds of needed supplies of clothing, bedding, food, water, medical and hygiene equipment and even toys for children in the aftermath of the most powerful earthquake so far recorded this year which measured 8.3 on the Richter scale and struck American Samoa, Samoa, and Tonga, causing death and destruction on a nearly unprecedented scale.
“I want to thank the Samoa Relief Wave coalition of volunteers, families, friends, companies, school districts, colleges and universities, church and city officials, and members of the Pacific Island community in Utah who, out of kindness and love, collected over 160,000 pounds of relief supplies for the victims and families affected by the recent tsunami in American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga,” Faleomavaega said. “I sincerely thank everyone who participated in this enormous undertaking.”
“It is my understanding that the volunteers and donors ranged from as young as 6-month-olds to 80-year-olds from all walks of life. They showed their support notwithstanding the bitter early-morning cold throughout the three-day donation drive to help those in need in the islands. Vehicles lined the parking lot of the Taylorsville City Hall to offer donations such as clothing, non-perishable food items, medical supplies, hygiene supplies, shoes, money, water, tents, blankets, toys, books, and other goods.”
“At first, the Samoa Relief Wave volunteers started off with three 54-foot containers (two from Salt Lake City and one from St. George, Utah) donated by Godfrey Trucking of Salt Lake City. But because of the enormous amount of relief supplies donated, a fourth truck was rolled in to accommodate the donations that were designated for Niua, Tonga. There were also companies who donated and did not want to be acknowledged, and there was so much out-pouring of love and generosity that it was very emotional and moving.”
“The donated goods were sent to Los Angeles where they were combined with efforts of the Samoan Community under the direction of Rev. Liki Tiatia, Rev. Misipouena Tagaloa, Rev. John Mailo and High Chief Loa Pele Faletogo. At the request of Faleomavaega, who serves as the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, and Rep. Laura Richardson of California who has worked closely with Faleomavaega’s office, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton authorized a one-time airlift of these supplies to Apia, Samoa. Two 40-foot containers were shipped directly to Niua, Tonga by the Tongan community.”
“I want to thank Secretary Clinton for her support of our Samoan and Tongan communities in the U.S. who have worked so hard to help their brothers and sisters in need,” Faleomavaega said. “I also want to thank the Honorable Mayor Russ Wall of Taylorsville, Utah for his assistance and for allowing use of the City Hall facilities to organize the relief effort. Also, I thank Godfrey Trucking, Home Depot, and all those who anonymously donated as well as the companies and individuals who so freely gave.”
“In particular, I extend my appreciation and thanks to Papalii Misiona Patane, Jr. and Senerita Auvaa from Salt Lake City and Pati Tiatia and Liahona Tiatia from the St. George area for coordinating this humanitarian effort for our people in Samoa and Tonga. Their selfless sacrifice and prompt response in this critical time of need by our people at home is much appreciated.”
“I also thank Junior Ah-You and the Ah-You-Moe families who cancelled their family reunion plans for that day so that they could provide enough koko-rice, sua-masi, pani-popo, homemade baked bread and scones that fed all the volunteers on Saturday morning. It is this kind of spirit that makes all of us one family and this is why once more I want to thank everyone involved for all they have done to help our brothers and sisters in need,” Faleomavaega concluded.