Tsunami Relief Donations Come From Coast

Sayward Duffano is a professional artist who lives in Gulfport.

"Artists are generous people," she said.

Last week, Duffano watched the Tsunami devastation in disbelief.

"So I decided I would try and organize something that we could do to help."

First, Duffano contacted PJ's Coffee and Tea Company owner Ralph Hochrine.

"I didn't hesitate a bit," he said, after hearing Duffano's fundraising proposal. "I think that it's a great idea."

With Hochrine on board, Duffano called artists around the area. At least 20 agreed to donate some of their works for a silent auction at PJ's -- with all proceeds going to Tsunami relief efforts.

"People love art. And people love to give," she said. "And this is just a great way of combining both."

Just three months ago, organizations all over south Mississippi were collecting money to help hurricane victims in Alabama and Florida. In fact, a replica of a $1,104 donation from Reeves Elementary School sits on a wall at the Red Cross headquarters.

Now, the need is for Tsunami victims in south Asia. Not surprisingly, the checks are rolling in.

"Here's a $15 check. Here's a $100 check," Red Cross director Oscar Barnes as he went through a pile of donations that just arrived.

An area bank executive donated $2,500 to the Tsunami relief efforts. A baptist church in Picayune sent $2,000. In less than a week, the Red Cross chapter in Biloxi had almost $9,000 in Tsunami contributions.

Many of the donations were accompanied by warm wishes from caring south Mississippians. One note said, "Use this where ever it may be needed the most. And may God bless you."

Barnes wasn't surprised by South Mississippi's generosity.

"My heart goes out to the fact that people are so generous when it comes to people helping people," he said.

Sayward Duffano hopes that generous spirit exists Sunday, January 16, when people bid on art, and help Tsunami relief efforts at the same time.

"Getting this money over there to help those people," Duffano said, "that's the bottom line."

The silent auction starts Sunday. And it runs for a month. Again, all the money collected will benefit Tsunami victims. PJ's is on Pass Road in Gulfport.