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Anchorage volunteers collect relief supplies for Tonga

Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 9:45 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Donations are filling up a room at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Maplewood Street in Anchorage. They’re ultimately headed for the island nation of Tonga, which is still recovering from the aftermath of an undersea volcano eruption earlier this month.

“We do have as you see, water, flour, rice. We still need more of those, like the noodles,” said Mahina Inoke.

She and other members of the Polynesian Association of Alaska need more than just nonperishable food.

“We also need tents, more flashlights, things, you know, that they can use there,” Inoke said.

The church is one of four locations around Anchorage where relief supplies can be dropped off to help victims of the Jan. 15 underwater volcanic eruption near Tonga.

The collection drive started, according to Inoke, almost immediately after the blast. The amount of donated items surprised her.

“It was so last minute that we put it out there,” Inoke said. “We haven’t had a really good chance to put it out in the community.”

But the amount of the donations has not surprised everyone.

“I know how important this is to the people of Alaska,” said Sela Ofiu. “And I know for sure it’s in their hearts and their thoughts, about the people of Tonga.”

Both women are from Tongo, and still have family there.

“They’re okay considering other families that are not, that lost homes, properties, damaged properties,” Inoke said. “My family, I talked to my son, they’re more inland. And they’re just dealing with cleaning up and other stuff. Mostly emotional right now.

“The day before yesterday, there’s another 6.2 earthquake (that) happened in Tonga,” Ofiu said. “But everyone is doing okay.”

The ladies and others are now focused on getting help for loved ones back in their native land.

Those interested can drop off your donations at the following Anchorage locations:

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 3340 West 40th Ave.
  • 2501 Maplewood St.
  • 2240 Baxter Rd.
  • The Manai Fou Assembly of God Church, 2600 East 16th Ave.

Meanwhile, Matson announced it will contribute $251,000 in goods toward disaster aid. That includes free shipping containers, and transportation to Tonga.

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