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RAF LAKENHEATH, England — After donating more than $25,000 for the victims of the tsunami in South Asia, the people at RAF Lakenheath are now offering items to an orphanage in Sri Lanka caring for hundreds of people affected by the natural disaster.

Everything from blankets to buckets and tinned goods to toothpaste is needed in the country where about 30,000 were killed and more than 6,000 are still missing.

Elise Preston, one of the organizers of both efforts, said the items would be placed in a container sent by ship to the Sri Lankan orphanage run by the Rev. Francisco Lloyd Fernando. She heard him speak at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Thetford, near the base, and suggested the base help out.

One truckload of goods already has been sent to the Thetford church, she said, and another load of items will soon make its way there. A parishioner at the church purchased a container to carry the items.

This effort follows a basewide drive that raised $25,276.90. The money was given to Catholic Relief Services, World Vision and the American Red Cross.

That includes more than $11,000 raised during a special collection by congregations at the base chapel on Jan. 22 and 23, said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) John Srode, the 48th Fighter Wing chaplain.

“That was the largest collection we had over the last 12 months,” he said. “Everybody wanted to help.”

That money was added to funds gathered by other organizations on base. Preston said Master Sgt. Gabriel Eldridge of the 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron began an effort to raise money. She contacted him to help and was told he was transferring and his colleagues were deploying.

Preston took over the effort and enlisted the help of the Keystone Club and the Junior ROTC at the high school and the Officers and Civilians Spouses’ Club, among others groups. Collection buckets were set up around the base for the effort.

“I think everyone felt so helpless,” she said. She said one person put a check for $1,000 in a bucket.

At RAF Feltwell, the kindergarten pupils of Wanda Wood were doing their part. They sold mixes of cocoa and coffee in plastic containers, raising $206, which was donated to the American Red Cross.

The mixes were homemade by the children and included such items as instant coffee or cocoa, coffee creamers and, in the case of the coffee, crushed candy canes for a minty flavor, among other ingredients.

“I have to say, they were very good,” Wood said.

She used the disaster and the fund-raising effort as a teaching tool across the curriculum, from geography and social studies to math.

The highlight came, she said, when the representative from the Red Cross visited to collect the money.

“They were very, very proud,” she said of her children.


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