Posted: Dec. 12, 2013, 6:20 p.m. EST
By Clay Jackson
Typhoon Haiyan struck a blow to the heart of a country, its people and animals. And in so doing, the storm touched the hearts of Charisa Antigua and Carmina O’Connor, expatriate sisters from the Philippines and co-founders of pet clothier Oscar Newman.
Half a world away in Batavia, Ill., Antigua and O’Connor contributed all the profits recorded over four days from the wholesale and online purchases of Oscar Newman dog apparel and CocoTherapy pet products and treats.
A total of $2,500 was raised for typhoon relief efforts from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.
"After the news of the storm, we received a barrage of emails and calls from our wonderful customers asking how they could help,” said O’Connor, the president of Oscar Newman.
Charisa Antigua with coconut seed nuts at her family’s farm in the Philippines.
O’Connor and her sister, who have relatives and business connections in the Philippines, wanted to give back to a country that they said did so much for them.
"We wanted to provide a way to continue to offer our services to [customers] and at the same time enable them to help the Philippines,” O’Connor said. "It was win-win for all.”
The money will be split between two charities: Operation Blessing International, which caters to people, and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), which rescues and cares for displaced pets.
People and animals were severely affected by the typhoon, especially in hard-hit Tacloban, located 360 miles southeast of the capital Manila.
Antigua and O’Connor are confident the money will get to where it can do the most good.
"We know the director at PAWS and will specify money be used to buy food and medical supplies,” said Charisa Antigua, CEO of Oscar Newman
Antigua reported that Manila-based PAWS was one of the first animal rescue groups into Tacloban after the typhoon.
"We’ve witnessed their work firsthand, and the money actually goes to the animals,” she said.
Of special concern for Antigua and O’Connor was their family-run coconut farm and processing facility, located near Manila, which supplies the oil and raw coconut
used in CocoTherapy products.
"The coconut farm did sustain some minor damage,” Antigua revealed. "The roof on the farm facility was damaged, but thankfully no one on the farm was hurt and ... operations are back up and running.”
The coconut industry as a whole was not so lucky, added Antigua, who said the Philippines is one of the world’s top producers of coconut oil.
The Philippine Coconut Authority reported that more than 1.2 million coconut trees were severely damaged in the typhoon.
"We can’t help but think about our family and friends back home in the Philippines
,” O’Connor reflected. "We are blessed that they were unharmed ... but we feel saddened for those whose lives were ripped apart.
"The typhoon victims will be rebuilding their lives for years to come.”
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