News

Fundraiser to benefit earthquake victims in Italy

By Ray Spiteri, Niagara Falls Review

Niagara's Italian community has raised $105,000 and counting to help those affected by last August's earthquake in central Italy destroying most of the city of Amatrice. Organizer Felix Pingue is getting things ready for the final fundraising event on Saturday at Club Italia in Niagara Falls. 
(Mike DiBattista/Niagara Falls Review/Postmedia Network)

Niagara's Italian community has raised $105,000 and counting to help those affected by last August's earthquake in central Italy destroying most of the city of Amatrice. Organizer Felix Pingue is getting things ready for the final fundraising event on Saturday at Club Italia in Niagara Falls. (Mike DiBattista/Niagara Falls Review/Postmedia Network)

It’s an example of how a lot of people doing a little can make a significant difference in the lives of people in need.

Niagara’s Italian community has come together and raised $105,000 — and counting — in four months to help those affected by last August’s earthquake that slammed central Italy and destroyed most of the medieval city of Amatrice.

Since September, Italian clubs from across the region have planned and hosted their own events.

All of the money collected will be personally dropped off by a local representative. Anyone who wishes to attend is responsible to pay for their own trip.

Organizer Felix Pingue has family living close to the area that was affected by the Aug. 24, 6.2-magnitude quake that killed nearly 300 people and left entire sections of a dozen towns and villages reduced to rubble.

He said the money raised from events will not go to an agency, but rather directly to families who have been impacted by the disaster.

A public meeting will be held once the money arrives in Italy and it will be distributed according to a plan that has worked well in the past.

Pingue, a businessman and past president of Club Italia in Niagara Falls, said a process of collecting and distributing the money was put in place in 2009 when an earthquake levelled much of the city of L’Aquila.

That system worked well, unlike previous earthquake fundraising events where money was collected and turned over to various organizations or government agencies, but it either took years or never reached those who needed it.

“Each club did a function, invited the members and the public and whatever they raised that night, they gave it to the fundraising (campaign),” said Pingue.

“The people are so nice. It’s amazing. Every club did this with love in their hearts and not with big money, but with small money — $5, $20, $30, $40. Everything is registered.”

The final fundraising event is scheduled for Saturday at Club Italia.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and the event will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Pingue said all the Italian clubs from across Niagara will be represented, as will a club from Toronto and two clubs from Western New York.

Tickets for the dinner/dance gala are $50 and can be purchased by calling Club Italia at 905-374-7388 or Pingue at 905-356-3186.

rspiteri@postmedia.com