Over the course of just four days, Bay Area residents and BART riders donated so generously to the "Bay Area Tsunami Relief Train" effort that the contributions far and away exceeded the amount needed to meet the goal of sending the equivalent of a BART train full of bottled water to tsunami survivors.
According to Wells Fargo Bank and the Oakland-based certified public accounting firm, Grant & Smith, LLP, the "Bay Area Tsunami Relief Train" fund collected $15,500. That's nearly eight times the amount needed.
On Monday, January 10, Singapore Airlines, Safeway, Grant & Smith, LLP, Project Concern International, Wells Fargo and BART began urgently asking Bay Area residents to drop their loose change in donation safes located inside BART stations.
The goal was to quickly raise enough money before Thursday, January 13th to rush 20 tons of bottled water Â– enough to fill a BART train - to the tsunami survivors in Indonesia, the country hardest hit by the disaster.
The 20 tons of water is equivalent to approximately 34,000 bottles of water. The non-profit relief aid organization, Project Concern International, will use the donated funds to buy ten tons of bottled water at cost from Safeway. Safeway will donate the other 10 tons.
"Clean water was and continues to be urgently needed by disaster victims, especially in remote areas not reached by initial relief efforts," said Project Concern International's President and CEO George Guimaraes. "We deeply appreciate the generosity of everyone in the Bay Area who has supported this important campaign. It will make a difference in the lives of people who need it most," Guimaraes said.
THE NEXT STEP: GETTING THE WATER TO THE VICTIMS
Singapore Airlines, which is donating the cargo space to ship the bottled water, has already begun the process to get the life-saving liquid to Jakarta, Indonesia where Project Concern International will receive the shipment and distribute it to tsunami survivors in Aceh Province.
Project Concern International is a global health organization that saves the lives of children and families by preventing disease and providing access to clean water and nutritious food. Project Concern International already had 250 staff members in India and Indonesia, and was able to respond quickly to the emergency.
Wells Fargo Bank and Brink's courier service supported this effort by facilitating the cash handling for the collection of the donations at no cost. The Oakland-based accounting firm of Grant & Smith, LLP, contributed its time to monitor the cash handling and certification of the donated funds.
"Wells Fargo is proud to support such a wonderful, collaborative effort that will help so many victims who continue to suffer after the devastating tragedy," said Joanne Schultz, Wells Fargo's Market President for the San Francisco Financial District. "We are thankful to everyone who donated so generously to help the tsunami survivors have clean drinking water."
"We are sorry of the surrounding circumstances," said Miranda Beasley of Grant & Smith, LLP, "but we are happy to have been able to participate at the local area in this disaster relief effort."
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE ADDITIONAL DONATIONS?
Because people contributed more than what was needed to buy 10 tons of water at cost from Safeway, Project Concern International has agreed that it will use 100% of the additional donations toward its tsunami relief efforts.
WHY ASK PEOPLE TO BUY WATER?
Most organizations charged with helping the tsunami victims are asking for cash donations because purchasing water and supplies near the disaster area cuts down on shipping costs. However, Singapore Airlines is shipping the water for free.
Additionally, many organizations, including Project Concern International, are finding it extremely difficult to locate and to purchase clean drinking water near the disaster areas because manufacturers cannot keep up with the overwhelming demand.
However, thanks to the overwhelmingly generous support from those who contributed to the Bay Area Tsunami Relief Train fund, clean drinking water will now be quickly shipped to the people who need it most.