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Armenian Center Aids Hurricane Victims

Volunteers gathered at the Armenian Community Center on Wednesday to load a van full of economy-size boxes of Frosted Flakes, cans of tuna, jars of peanut butter and canned fruits and vegetables.

They had earlier sent another truckload of nonperishable foods to a storage facility in Los Feliz. All are bound for Chinandega, Nicaragua, in the western region of the country, which along with other Central American nations, was devastated in late October by Hurricane Mitch.

Perhaps the worst natural disaster to ever hit the region, it killed at least 10,000 people and left millions homeless.

The donations were presented to a local Nicaraguan organization by members of the Armenian community, both as a “Christmas gift"--Armenians celebrate Christmas on Jan. 6--and as a way of giving back.

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“A lot of folks helped the Armenian community with the earthquake in Armenia 10 years ago,” said John Krikorian, a Glendale public relations consultant who helped organize the food drive. “Different countries reached out and sent aid. And now when this disaster happened, we said, ‘Let’s reach out.’ ”

Over the last month, local chapters of the Armenian Relief Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the needs of the Armenian community, have collected food from its more than 1,000 members. Some Armenian schools also participated in the drive.

The gift was appreciated, said Julio Cardoza, executive director of Casa Nicaragua in Los Angeles, which is coordinating local aid efforts. He said the food items will be shipped to a relief agency in Nicaragua, which will distribute them to those hardest hit by the hurricane that also swept through Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

“Most of the infrastructure was destroyed--bridges, roads, houses,” he said, and an estimated 6,000 were killed in Nicaragua alone, with 1 million left homeless.

“We need more hands.”


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