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How one Drexel student is working to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

December 4, 2013

"One Love" shirt

The Philippines didn’t earn the accolade of hosting the world’s longest Christmas season for nothing: Holiday songs play on the radio as early as September and can be heard during the large number of light spectacles, religious masses and themed festivals and events held until early January. But this year’s holiday celebration was cut short when Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Typhoon Yolanda, ripped apart entire villages, separated families and destroyed lives when it hit the Philippines on Nov. 8.

Almost a month later, the death toll from the Category 5 storm is estimated at more than 5,600, with about 1,700 still missing, 26,000 injured and millions more left to pick up the pieces. The spirit of giving during the holiday season has taken a new meaning when hundreds of thousands of Filipinos are struggling to survive.

“Just knowing that there are people who don’t have food or shelter during the holiday season is really heartbreaking,” said Gerre Mae Barcebal, a senior graphic design major in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design.

Barcebal, who has family in the Philippines who weren’t affected by Typhoon Haiyan, has created the gift that keeps on giving. She created a campaign called “One Love,” aiming to sell 350 shirts at $25 each to raise $5,110 for ABS-CBN Sagip Kapamilya, a Philippines-based emergency humanitarian assistance program of the ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc., non-profit.

“They’re rebuilding all parts of the Philippines that were destroyed,” she said.

All of the profits will go toward the charity. It’s a way for Americans to buy holiday presents for their loved ones that would also help out other people’s loved ones in the Philippines.

The shirts, which come in white and black (click the links to purchase one), feature a “One Love” logo designed by Barcebal as well as the sun and stars of the Philippines flag. Underneath the logo is the tagline “The Sun Will Rise Again,” a sunny message that also ties in to Barcebal’s desire to help Filipinos who “have lost everything but their spirit, their genuine hearts and hopes for a brighter day after surviving the very worst.”

Barcebal reached out to the Filipino Intercultural Society of Drexel University (FISDU) and Campus Activities Board organizations she is involved with to help promote the campaign. FISDU’s involvement in the Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue helped Barcebal connect with Filipino societies along the East Coast to raise awareness of her campaign and the need for relief efforts in the Philippines.

Other campaign efforts include a day of selling shirts outside of the Starbucks in Gerri C. LeBow Hall and creating a video of Barcebal speed-drawing the “One Love” design on a chalkboard.

The campaign ends Dec. 9. The shirts will be mailed within two weeks to be received by Dec. 23, just in time for the holidays.

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