Benefit aims to help the Philippines

Many of Minot’s residents know a thing or two about how devastating a natural disaster can be, and an upcoming benefit event will give them a chance to help others going through very difficult circumstances halfway around the world.

Minot Steps Up is a benefit dinner and live acoustic music show raising funds for the Philippines, which was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan Nov. 8. The powerful storm left thousands dead and millions homeless.

Mae Kizima and Stephanie Fournier, who were both born in the Philippines, are two of the forces behind Minot Stands Up. While Fournier left the Philippines when she was still a baby and has lived in North Dakota ever since, Kizima resided there until she was 9.

Dan Hansen, a local concert promoter who has founded several benefit concerts in Minot, including Rock the Leaves, is also on board. Those three have teamed up with Margie Bolton, owner of Margie’s Art Glass Studio in downtown Minot, to hold the benefit event.

Minot Steps Up will take place Friday at Margie’s Art Glass Studio, 109 Main St., from 5 to 9 p.m. There is a suggested donation of $5 at the door and all funds will go to Lutheran Disaster Response for its work with Philippines typhoon relief.

“Lutheran Disaster Response was here (in Minot) helping with our disaster for the last couple years. They were actually leading up the cleanup with Hope Village. They just shut down here in town,” Hansen said. “We’re calling it Minot Steps Up and we’re paying it forward for all the help that we got with the flood.”

For those who can’t make it to Minot Steps Up but would still like to donate, a check made out to Lutheran Disaster Response can be mailed to Hope Lutheran Church, 200 SW 5th St., Surrey, ND 58785. Be sure to write “Pacific Typhoon Response” in the check’s memo field to ensure the money goes to that specific cause, as Lutheran Disaster Response is helping out in a number of different areas around the world.

Minot Steps Up is being sponsored and promoted by Rock the Leaves, and will feature many different things for attendees to see and do.

“It’s kind of a mixture of everything,” Fournier said. “We’re having Filipino food and music by local artists.”

Some of the artists who will be on hand include Ben Eder, Fernandrew, Adrian Brown and Generosity Encouraged.

The food will be authentic staples of the Philippines such as fried rice and lumpia, which is a pastry containing various ingredients such as chicken or lettuce that can be served either fresh or fried.

There will also be a gingerbread house contest and ugly sweaters will be sold. There will be a fee of 25 cents per vote in the gingerbread house contest, which will be added to the funds going to Lutheran Disaster Response.

The top three gingerbread houses will net their creators free movie tickets and other prizes. The contest is free to enter.

For rules and more information about the gingerbread house contest, go online to (facebook.com/

rocktheleaves).

Minot Steps Up is only one part of a three-pronged approach being used to raise money for Lutheran Disaster Response. A Philippines benefit was also held at Pizza Ranch on Monday, with tips from a tip jar and 20 percent of the bill from anyone who mentioned the benefit adding to the funds being sent to LDR. Just over $215 has also been raised in conjunction with Tupperware, which makes the well-known plastic containers found in kitchens everywhere.

It was Kizima who originally got the ball rolling on Minot Steps Up. She knew Fournier and had met Hansen through Rock the Leaves. Although her family wasn’t affected by Typhoon Haiyan, Kizima still knew she had to do something.

“It just hit home for me because I was actually in the Philippines back in (1991) when Mount Pinatubo erupted,” Kizima said. “My family and I weren’t affected, necessarily, but we still had to evacuate.”

Kizima called Fournier and asked her to spread the word to churches and anyone else she could think of that the Philippines could use some help. One of the first people Fournier thought of was Hansen.

“The last two Christmases we’ve done a benefit of sorts for the (Minot Area) Homeless Coalition as Rock the Leaves,” Hansen said. “But then this year since the typhoon happened and there’s a lot of homelessness going on there right now, we decided to help.”

Hansen then reached out to Margie Bolton, owner of Margie’s Art Glass Studio, to see if she would be willing to host the event. She readily agreed.

“We lost our house in 2011 and I guess it makes you understand – especially with the magnitude of this tragedy – what it feels like not to have a home,” Bolton said. “We always had food, we had alternate housing. It gives you empathy for other people.”

Their initial goal was to raise $1,000. It might not seem like much considering how much damage the typhoon did, but Kizima said that couldn’t be further from the truth because of how strong the U.S. dollar is compared to the Philippine peso. At the current exchange rate as of Dec. 5, $1 equals almost 44 pesos. If just $1,000 is raised, that would add up to 43,865 pesos.

As an example of just how far the U.S. dollar can be stretched there, $50 might be enough to feed a couple at a restaurant in the United States, but Kizima said it would be able to feed a family of 20 in the Philippines.

“One thousand dollars to us might not be a whole lot to raise, but that was initially our small goal. That’s actually going to be huge if our turnout is beyond that,” Fournier said. “Having these benefits and any U.S. dollars we raise is a big deal. Our dollar is going to be stretched far over there. Every dollar really does count.”