As rescuers are working furiously to find survivors following the massive earthquake in Italy earlier this week, an Italian cultural organization based in Ridgewood is raising funds toward the rebuilding process.
The Associazione Culturale Italiana di New York and Italian daily newspaper America Oggi have launched a GoFundMe page seeking cash donations for the earthquake victims. So far, more than $18,000 has been raised toward the drive’s $100,000 goal.
More than 250 people have died in the earthquake that struck early Wednesday morning local time in the town of Amatrice, about 60 miles northeast of Rome. The tremor, which registered 6.2 on the Richter scale, occurred while most people were sleeping and leveled most buildings in Amatrice and nearby villages.
The quake struck a few miles to the north of the city of Aquila, which was similarly devastated in a 2009 earthquake. Following the earthquake, the Associazione raised funds and teamed up with the Agnelli Family Foundation to build a new elementary school.
“Although it is to early for us to have identified a project, the need will be there as the damage is catastrophic,” Tony DiPiazza, chairman of the Associazione Culturale Italiana di New York, wrote of the Amatrice earthquake in a message on the GoFundMe page. “We will be once again partnering with the Agnelli Foundation as before, who will identify a project, which most likely will be a local school or home for the elderly.”
In the past, the Associazione has held fundraisers in the aftermath of a number of other natural and man-made disasters, such as the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Following Wednesday’s quake, DiPiazza and Associazione President Tony Mule quickly worked to establish an earthquake fund as well as the GoFundMe account to receive monetary donations. In the wake of previous disasters, financial donations have been the most effective way to bring relief to those who need it the most.
The school rebuilt in Aquila following the 2009 quake was completed in just four months, DiPiazza told QNS, noting that the structure was one of the first major buildings reconstructed in the area.
“Everybody’s displaced” now in Amatrice, “and we want to get their lives back to normal as best as possible,” DiPiazza added. He anticipates the fundraising effort will be going on for many months as Italy works to rebuild.
Click here to make a contribution to the Italy earthquake fundraiser. Those who can’t donate on the GoFundMe page may mail a check payable to the Associazione Culturale Italiana di New York Earthquake Fund, c/o Astoria Bank, 75-25 Metropolitan Ave., Middle Village, NY 11379.