BBCN employees donate $40,000 to PH relief efforts

LOS ANGELES – On Monday morning, the employees of BBCN Bank (one of the leading Korean-American banks in the US) made a significant donation to the relief efforts for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

During a ceremonial turnover at the BBCN headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard, BBCN President & CEO Soo Bong Min presented a check amounting to $40,000 to American Red Cross – Long Beach Development Director Donya Webb and Philippine Consul Marlowe A. Miranda.

According to BBCN Senior Vice President Jimmy Lee, the amount was raised through voluntary contributions from the bank and its employees.

A great portion of the donation came from vacation leave credits, which BBCN converted into cash based on the salaries of the donating employees. Basically, BBCN employees donated the cash value of their work hours for the benefit of the typhoon victims, Lee said.

And that was not the only way that BBCN employees pledged their help to those affected by Haiyan.

“What was amazing was roughly about a hundred employees decided that not only do they want to give  their vacation time, but they also wanted to make personal contributions,” Lee said.

“So they [the employees] wrote checks out of their own pockets for relief efforts on behalf of the bank,” he added.

According to Lee, roughly 10 percent of the entire $40,000 came from personal donations. BBCN has also expressed to the American Red Cross that they wanted to the funds to be used solely for the relief work in the Philippines.

“Our communication with the American Red Cross was that we wanted [the donation] to go specifically for Philippine relief efforts,” Lee said.

“We’re speaking with the Philippine Consulate General and receiving directions from them in terms of exactly where that money should go. And we’re more than willing to work with them to understand exactly where the money is needed most right now,” Lee added.

Miranda told Asian Journal via text message that the Consulate hasn’t specified yet where the money should go.

They are waiting for Manila to identify those priority areas.

“Even though Filipinos and Koreans are not of the same ethnic race, we are all the same human race,” Lee said.

“Our purpose is all the same, it’s to help those in need. I’m just thankful on behalf of the bank that we’re able to make this issue a priority, and that our employees have stepped up and donated not only their money but their time. We’re so proud of them that they were able to do that,” Lee said.

Webb said that the American Red Cross is “thrilled” to have “this kind of response” from BBCN’s employees. Webb said that the Long Beach chapter of the Red Cross will receive the donation, which will then be funneled through the Los Angeles region, before being transmitted to the American Red Cross national office. The national office will then transmit those funds to the Philippine Red Cross, as per the request of the donor (BBCN, in this case).

Webb said that she was grateful for the generosity of the employees  — giving up their vacation days for people in need that they hardly know.

“It’s just amazing. Thank you so much for this generous contribution,” Webb said. She said that the employees gift will go a long way in the recovery process for the Filipinos affected.

Miranda said that the gesture of the bank employees to help the Filipinos was “touching.”

“We have not had that many corporations doing this for us, so it’s very noteworthy for BBCN for having initiated this effort,” Miranda said.

According to Miranda, the Consulate has recorded over $2 million donated to typhoon relief efforts by corporations, social organizations, and individuals within their jurisdiction alone. This includes Southern California, Southern Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

“Thank you BBCN employees and to the BBCN Bank itself for initiating this fund drive for our fellow Filipinos. We hope that your donation will go a long way in helping the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, through the efforts of the American and the Philippine Red Cross,” Miranda said.

(LA Midweek January 15-17, 2014 Sec A pg.1)

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