Friday, August 17, 2007

Local relief efforts for Peru quake victims under way

Express Staff Writer

Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Sun Valley is planning a relief effort to help Peruvian earthquake victims.

An earthquake measuring 8.0 hit central Peru on Wednesday night, killing at least 455 people.

"We are planning to do something but we don't know exactly what it will be," said Heidi Marcus, the church's bookkeeper.

She said that within the next three weeks the church will announce more specifically the form its effort will take. The church has 250 parishioners.

Meanwhile, an organization called Proyecto Latino in Salt Lake City has set up a relief fund with the Peruvian Consulate in Denver to help the earthquake victims.

"We'll do what we can to help Peruvians from our end," said Tony Yapias, director of Proyecto Latino and a former advisor on Hispanic affairs to the Utah governor. People wishing to donate can do so at any Wells Fargo Bank by just asking for the Peru Relief Fund, Yapias said.

Yapias, who is from Peru, will be in the Wood River Valley this fall to speak at the annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival. He estimated that 15,000 to 20,000 Peruvians live in Salt Lake City.

The Peruvian community has become an integral part of the Wood River Valley, said Trailing of the Sheep Festival director Linnea Collins of Bellevue. She said many started coming about a decade ago to work as sheepherders. Collins encouraged local people to do what they can for relief efforts.

"We are paying attention," she said. "We reach out when there is a disaster."

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