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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Tsunami catastrophe spawns tidal wave of generosity from touched Canadians

TORONTO (CP) - The tsunami catastrophe that devastated coastal communities around south Asia and east Africa has spawned a deluge of generosity from Canadians for whom the seemingly far-flung disaster appears to have hit close to home.

Experts say soaring cash donations from individuals are being fuelled in part by a deep-rooted need to do something to help the victims, many of them children, and partly by a sense of belonging to an ever-shrinking global village.

"There's some sense of identification with (the victims)," said Leslie Greenberg, a psychology professor at York University.

"I feel a lot of compassion or concern because that could have been me and then I want to do something."

In Peterborough, Ont., for example, children and adults alike literally lined up at the Red Cross, some clutching piggy banks, others simply with chequebooks in hand, as they patiently waited to make a donation to the relief effort.

The disaster struck during a holiday season marked by family get-togethers, good will and gift-giving as many Canadians were still digesting their Christmas dinners, in stark contrast to what was occurring halfway around the planet.

"It's a time when people are with family, people's psyche is around giving, around generosity," said Linda Tripp, vice-president of World Vision Canada.

"It really motivated people to say, 'I've got so much. I'm so blessed. I need somehow to respond to this.' "

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