Only on ABC-7: El Pasoans help with typhoon recovery

Only on ABC-7: El Pasoans aid in typhoon recovery efforts

EL PASO, Texas - Saturday marks four months since one of the most powerful storms ever recorded devastated the Philippines.

Typhoon Haiyan made landfall Nov. 8, 2013, killing 6,201 people and destroying 1.1 million homes. A recently published news story reported bodies are still being pulled from under downed buildings and trees during recovery efforts.

A group of El Pasoans is still working on helping those who may be out of sight, but are not out of mind.

"Some people have kind of forgotten or think - someone else is taking care of it -- no. We're taking the initiative to keep on helping," said Joanna Lasala, with Heart for the World Church in East El Paso.

"A majority of our church members are Filipinos," Lasala added. "So regardless if their families were in the affected area, the nation was affected. Since the nation is affected, we're affected."

Lasala's family runs the non-denominational church, which began gathering cash donations in November. As of a few weeks ago, they've sent approximately $16,000 overseas. All that money was sent to a friend of Lasala's father, who is also a pastor, in the Philippines. Lasala said it was the best and easiest way to get the donations to the areas hit hard -- and in which they had a vested interest. She said they really wanted to focus their efforts on Leyte, which, according to French news agency Agence France-Presse, suffered the worst casualties during Typhoon Haiyan.

Much of the donated money went toward buying food for 200 families. The rest went to carpentry tools, supplies and wages for construction workers. They're working on rebuilding and repairing homes for 37 families.

"Even though we don't know them, we're all Filipinos. Filipinos unite," Lasala said, jokingly pumping her fist in the air. "It's a good feeling that we're doing something to help out."

Lasala said the youth and young adult group from the Heart for the World Church is planning a trip to the Philippines in July to get more involved in the nation's recovery. The church is also still accepting monetary donations. Call the church at (915) 539-9627 to help.

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