By Mike Kinney
A Richmond church is collecting donations to support the people of Tonga in the devastating aftermath of the massive undersea volcanic eruption on Jan. 15 that triggered destructive tsunami waves and blanketed the island nation in volcanic ash, contaminating water sources and food supply both on land and in the sea.
Rev. Ofa Ha’unga of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church said Mesake Joji, a Fijian lay leader of the church, is paying for a 20-foot container to fill up with donations to send to support citizens of Tonga. Items can include pantry items, canned foods, flour, sugar, cooking oil, rice, coffee, tea, powdered creamer etc.
Local residents can drop off items at the church located at 3200 Barrett Ave. on Saturday, Feb. 5, Saturday, Feb. 12, and Saturday, Feb. 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, Rev. Huanga said.
“Anyone in the community who is willing to donate is very much appreciated,” the reverend said. “The donation will help the most desperate families in Tonga.”
The Hunga Tonga and Hunga Haapai volcanic eruption shook the globe on a massive scale. The sound of the eruption could be heard hundreds of miles away in Fiji and beyond. It triggered tsunamis that devastated areas of Tonga and damaged coastlines along the Pacific rim as far as Santa Cruz, where a harbor endured millions of dollars in damages. The eruption also entirely covered the islands in volcanic ash, impacting food and water supply as well as air quality. Only three deaths have been confirmed, a miraculous outcome to a catastrophic event.
“The people of Tonga are desperate for their supply of food, and water has been contaminated,” Rev. Ha’unga said. “Hence, the demands for food, water, masks and gloves are among the highest need right now.”