"Programa Amigos," the city's ambitious effort to aid Mexican earthquake victims in Ciudad Guzman, has far exceeded its planners' expectations.
"It's impressive, it really is," said Mireya Jones, one of the program's organizers. As of last week, about $50,000 had been raised to aid Ciudad Guzman, an area that suffered damage second only to Mexico City in last month's devastating earthquake.
That figure is expected to rise substantially by Friday, when more than a dozen charitable and service organizations will meet to pool their fund-raising efforts.
The relief effort was organized by City Director Rick Cole, who hastily organized a fact-finding team of city and community leaders to tour Ciudad Guzman a few days after the quake. Twenty-nine people were killed in Ciudad Guzman, and 40,000 others were left homeless. The city is about 90 miles south of Guadalajara and 250 miles east of the capital.
After returning from Mexico, the city's six-person delegation described the devastation they had seen to a gathering of service groups that offered their help. An all-out effort to raise money and collect medical supplies was launched on Oct. 4.
Since then, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and businesses, schools and service clubs have solicited donations from their own members as well as the public.
The response, Jones said, has been overwhelming. All Saints Episcopal Church has raised about $24,000 and three Roman Catholic churches have raised more than $22,000. The Kiwanis Club is collecting tents to be used as shelters. A group of Pasadena auto dealers are "putting their heads together," Jones said, to obtain a four-wheel-drive vehicle to be used as an ambulance in rural Ciudad Guzman.
And some of the earthquake victims will be dressed in style. Camp Beverly Hills, an upscale clothing line, has donated 400 sweat shirts to the effort.
Relief organizers will make a second trip to Ciudad Guzman to deliver money and supplies within the next two weeks.