PIEDMONT -- The first work of 2014 for two Piedmont High School brothers is a donation drive for child victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which hit southern areas of the Philippines in early November, causing devastation and claiming more than 5,000 lives.
"What better way to start off the New Year than by helping someone, even if you don't know them?" said PHS junior Anton Orban, 17, who is organizing the drive with his brother Julien, 16. "One can of baby formula can feed a baby for two or three weeks."
Orban said the Red Cross has put out the call for some very specific items for children -- baby formula, Pedialyte powder packs, diapers and infant and children's Tylenol.
"Other food, such as rice, is now available and being shipped from Manila to rural areas," Orban said.
He said they're not allowed to collect Tylenol or cash donations at the school, but diapers, formula and Pedialyte donations are welcome.
"We want to make it a fun activity with each grade competing against each other to see who can collect the most items."
He said bins will be set out in the library for each class on Jan. 6, the first day back at school after winter break.
"Whichever grade donates the most items will get some kind of reward," Orban said. "The real reward is the fact that they're helping someone else in a great way."
Orban said he and his brother -- whose heritage is Belgian, Japanese and Filipino -- always try to reach out to the Filipino community, especially in such times of need. They also held a T-shirt drive when the tsunami hit Japan in 2011, which raised nearly $2,000.
"I felt a sense that I really needed to help my people," said Orban, whose great-uncle was Carlos P. Romula, a distinguished diplomat, journalist and colonel in the U.S. Army and aide-de-camp to Gen. Douglas MacArthur during World War II. "I thought, 'What better way than to include Piedmont High School in a fundraiser and get the word out to students, parents and families?'"
Orban said that Mulberry's Market at 335 Highland Ave. in Piedmont will also have a donation bin for the two-week duration of the drive, where people can donate all items, including infant and child Tylenol.
Mary Anne Orban, the boys' mother, said the family is working on the fundraiser with two reputable organizations based in the Philippines.
"One is ASB-CBN Foundation that focuses primarily on sustainable aid that benefits children," she said. "It organizes a children's hot line and shelter, efforts to clean the highly polluted Pasig River and ecological efforts in the Philippines."
She said the other organization is the Zuellig Family Foundation, which supports sustainable health services to rural areas in the Philippines and is chaired by her cousin, Roberto Romulo.
Anton Orban said that after the drive, his family will transport donations to ASB-CBN's cargo division in Redwood City from where items will be shipped freight free to the Philippines.
"Maybe we can help a baby that is malnourished -- or even save a life," Orban said.
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