Helping Indian earthquake victims School kids lending a hand; PATH commuters can donate

The aftershocks of a massive earthquake that hit India on Jan. 26 and claimed more than 20,000 lives were felt here in Hoboken, where approximately 200 Indian families live.

Perhaps as many as 80 percent of them hail from the state of Gujarat where the earthquake hit, said Vasudev Trivedi, a Gujarat native who has lived in Hoboken for the last 25 years.

Trivedi’s sister still lives in Gujarat along with a number of aunts and uncles. And though all of them survived the earthquake, many of their homes are destroyed.

It’s been a harrowing time for Trivedi. To keep track of his family, he has put together a phone chart that he marks with the names and locations of his relatives every time he reaches them. So far he has made contact 35 times.

“They are all OK,” said Trivedi. “There are some cracks in the homes and they had to be outside for a long time in the bitter cold because they were afraid of the aftershocks.”

One day a few weeks ago, the phone rang and Trivedi reached for his chart, but it was not someone with news from India. It was Mayor Anthony Russo.

“He just called to say that he was sorry and to see if there was anything that could be done,” explained Trivedi. Out of that conversation sprung the idea for a fundraising project on Valentine’s Day that will involve local high school students. Under the supervision of Joe Miele, the school’s service learning coordinator, the students will set up a table in front of the PATH station on Feb. 14 and ask commuters to make a donation to help the earthquake victims.

“We have a lot of students who have relatives there who were lost,” said Miele.

Those who do not travel by way of the PATH can send checks to the high school made out to the Hoboken Public School Disaster Fund. The office of Hispanic and Minority Affairs in City Hall will also be collecting donations.

Organizers of the fundraising effort say that the purpose is to express love towards people who have suffered as much as it is to raise money.

“Valentine’s Day is about love and sharing,” said Trivedi. “I think people in town have seen the pictures of the earthquake and the pictures of the suffering. I think they will open their hearts. Whatever we raise will just be a drop in the bucket but it will help.”

For more information about the drive, call 420-2230.


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